Republicans in Florida can't keep their messaging on voting rights straight

Marco Rubio says it's "easier to vote" than "ever" after Florida passes restrictive voting bill

By Jon Skolnik

Staff Writer

Published January 19, 2022 2:04AM (EST)

Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Over the past two weeks, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been adamant that America is a paragon when it comes to voting rights. 

"In America it's never been easier to vote than it is today," Rubio tweeted on Sunday. "Ever."

"It is easier to vote in 2022 than it ever has been," he echoed days later in a Federalist op-ed. "Voter registration has been streamlined, and record turnouts show that Americans of all backgrounds are freely exercising their rights."

Over the past two years, however, Florida's Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has made a clear and concerted effort to make voting more difficult for residents of Rubio's home state. 

RELATED: Top Georgia Republican wants to ban ballot drop boxes — months after voting to install them

In June, DeSantis signed a sweeping restrictive voting law requiring voters to request vote-by-mail more frequently, limiting where and when drop boxes can be opened, and expanding powers to partisan poll watchers. Voting rights activists overwhelmingly objected to the measure, calling out its potential to suppress minority voters in the state. 

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For instance, voters of color are especially reliant on after-hour voting via drop boxes because it's disproportionately harder for them to take hours off during their shift, noted The New York Times. But according to CNN, DeSantis' new law restricts dropbox accessibility to twelve hours per day, when no such time restriction existed prior to last year. 

Back in November, DeSantis framed the bill's dropbox provisions as being conciliatory, saying "I don't even think we should have drop boxes." It goes without saying, however, that dropboxes make voting unquestionably easier. 

To make things even more intimidating for voters, DeSantis has also introduced a designated law enforcement body tasked with enforcing election law. 

"I guarantee you this: The first person that gets caught, no one is going to want to do it again after that," said DeSantis during a November press conference. 

At the time, the governor also announced that ballot harvesting – the practice of using third-parties to collect ballots on behalf of voters – would be banned. Historically, the practice has been used to enfranchise voters who lack access to polls or drop boxes.

RELATED: Marco Rubio wants to go after corporations — but there's a catch

Rubio's comments come as Senate Democrats push for a sweeping voting rights overhaul – combining the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act – that would counteract the GOP-backed push to curtail voting rights across the country. Both bills have the support of all Senate Democrats, but they need 60 votes to pass the chamber.

By Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik was a former staff writer at Salon.

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