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Florida cannot be out-goobered by Georgia on voting ‘reform’ | Column
Republicans in the state Legislature have decided “to transform this so-called gold standard of democracy into the envy of Cuba,” writes columnist Daniel Ruth.
Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers his State of the State address in the House chamber at the Capitol in Tallahassee during Opening Day of the Florida Legislature in March.
Gov. Ron DeSantis delivers his State of the State address in the House chamber at the Capitol in Tallahassee during Opening Day of the Florida Legislature in March. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Apr. 8
Updated Apr. 8

Following the November voting last year, Florida Republicans were euphoric, patting themselves on the back for pulling off a pristine, unblemished, pitch-perfect statewide election. Yippee!

Terms like “gold standard,” “a model for the rest of the nation” and a “beacon of light” were thrown around to describe Florida’s elections. This simply cannot stand.

Daniel Ruth
Daniel Ruth [ Tampa Bay Times ]

And so that probably explains why the Republican-dominated Florida Legislature in Tallahassee have decided this session to transform this so-called gold standard of democracy into the envy of Cuba.

After all, if former President Donald Trump had lost Florida last year, those vanguards of freedom up there in Tallahassee would be characterizing the election as a venal fraud perpetrated by George Soros, Jane Fonda, Saddam Hussein and probably Joe Biden’s dogs for good measure.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who fancies himself as presidential timber simply because a coven of conservative conspiracy theorists foamed at the mouth over him at a recent alt-right bund meeting, has said the state cannot “rest on its laurels” when it comes to voting. Simply because the November election was free of fraud or other mischief, hardly bodes well for future elections.

If you get too carried away with all this election gibberish by making it easier for people to vote, it’s only a matter of time before people will start thinking, “Hey, this voting stuff is pretty easy, maybe I’ll go cast a ballot.”

And if that happens all those naïve citizens might cast a vote for someone other than a Republican. And if that happens, DeSantis could lose. And if he loses, he might find himself having to go back to work for a living, perhaps opening a law office with Panhandle Rep. Matt Gaetz.

No good can come from this.

Something had to be done before all this freedom and liberty jabberwocky got out of hand.

When you really want to bollix things up in Tallahassee the go-to chap in the Legislature is state Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-I Love The Smell of Body Bags in The Morning.

Baxley’s track record of cluelessness is impressive even by Florida Legislature standards. From promoting the open carry of weapons without a license, to defending the presence of treasonous Confederate monuments, to attempting to blow up the state’s Bright Futures Scholarship program, the Crazy Guggenheim of the Florida Legislature was just the man jack to carry the water of turning Florida’s highly admired gold standard of elections into the envy of Myanmar.

And Baxley delivered too!

At the moment, Tallahassee is pondering legislation that require all voters to request mail-in ballots more frequently, ban drop boxes, allow only immediate family members to drop off mail-in ballots and remove every Floridian who has an active request for a vote-by-mail ballot once the legislation becomes law.

We still have several weeks to go before the end of this legislative session. Plenty of time for the gremlins of Tallahassee to tinker and fuddle around with the “Republican Job Protection Act of 2021.”

After all, Georgia has recently signed into law a voter suppression bill that makes it even more difficult to get an absentee ballot, prohibits offering food or water to people waiting in line to vote, asserting more power by the legislature over the state election board, allowing the legislature to suspend local election officials and making it harder to extend voting hours.

Does anyone honestly believe Tallahassee will allow itself to be out-goobered by Georgia? Georgia! Really? There are standards to uphold, you know.

Recently, state Sen. Joe Gruters, who was Trump’s official Florida dancing monkey during the 2020 election, was interviewed on public radio’s “Florida Round-Up.“ Gruters is also the Republican National Committee chairman of the party’s Election Integrity Committee. Stop laughing.

At any rate, Mr. Election Integrity refused to admit that Joe Biden won the presidency in a free and fair election. He also couldn’t explain why Florida, since its last election went off flawlessly, needs to change anything.

That’s what happens in Tallahassee, which is an old word for: “Because we can.”