Tallahassee, Fla., - On Wednesday, the Florida House passed Senate Bill 524 (SB 524), a bill that will create an unnecessary elections police force tasked with pursuing election “irregularities” in Florida. In addition to increasing the risk of naturalized voters being deleted from the rolls, it also contains a provision that would prevent sponsors of citizen initiatives from knowing the legal status of their ballot language.
The bill previously passed the Florida Senate and will be sent to Governor DeSantis.
Kirk Bailey, political director for the ACLU of Florida, responded to the vote with the following:
"There is absolutely no reason for an elections police force. In 2020, Gov. Ron DeSantis and his allies in the Florida Legislature praised the accuracy and efficiency of the election. Since then, they have worked to undermine the right to vote in Florida.
“SB 524 would create an elections police force that can only be described as a solution in search of a problem. The handful of cases of intentional misconduct that have been prosecuted in the past year demonstrates that the existing system works. There are no guardrails in this legislation to prevent the proposed office from becoming politicized. We have real needs in Florida to address, and this is not one of them.
“The citizen initiative process is already expensive and time-consuming due to laws passed by the Legislature. This bill takes that even further: initiative sponsors can potentially be caught in a perpetual state of limbo regarding the legality of their ballot language, unless they can pay tens of millions of dollars to collect the total number of required signatures in the two-year period before petition signatures expire.
“Additionally, the provision requiring the reporting of noncitizens issued driver’s licenses does not have safeguards to protect newly naturalized citizens from being flagged for deletion from voter rolls. Moreover, the creation of lists of noncitizens raises concerns regarding inaccuracies with spelling, nicknames, initials, and confusion with other similarly spelled names, which could lead to eligible voters being removed from the polls.
“Access to the ballot box is a fundamental right. Instead of casting doubts on open and transparent elections and deliberately attacking the citizen initiative process with this bill, Florida lawmakers should be defending our democracy and pursuing pro-voter policies.”