TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 524 into law. The new law will create an unnecessary elections police force tasked with pursuing claims of election “irregularities” in Florida. In addition to increasing the possibility of voter intimidation and the risk of naturalized citizens 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, which could create fatal roadblocks to the state's citizens expressing their will.
Most provisions of the law will go into effect immediately.
Amy Turkel, interim executive director of the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following:
“All Floridians should have equal and unencumbered access to make their voices heard at the ballot box. By signing this bill into law, Gov. DeSantis has added yet another barrier that will place additional burdens on Floridians who are trying to exercise their right to participate in our democracy.
“In 2020, Gov. DeSantis and his allies in the Florida Legislature praised the accuracy and efficiency of the November general election. Why fix what wasn't broken? Our state does not need an elections police force.
“The law also makes Florida’s citizens’ initiative process even more expensive and time-consuming than it already is, potentially leaving initiative sponsors in a perpetual state of limbo regarding the legality of their ballot language. Floridians have used the citizens' initiative process to create universal pre-kindergarten in the state, conserve natural resources, raise the minimum wage, and create progress in other ways when the governor and Legislature were unwilling to act. This new law threatens the existence of many citizens' initiatives on the ballots.
“SB 524 may also result in increased voter purges by creating unnecessary, duplicative and confusing requirements, which will impose significant election administration costs on counties, with no additional funding provided by the state. This could result in thousands of voters being wrongly identified for removal from the Florida Voter Registration System due to seriously flawed data and faulty implementation, which could lead to eligible voters being denied access to the polls.
“Our democracy works best when people are able to vote freely and fairly. This law undermines our freedom to vote and is counterproductive to our shared goal of creating a better democracy in Florida.