With the Republican party embracing former President Donald Trump's delusional conspiracy theories regarding the validity of the 2020 election, Republican legislatures across the country have mobilized to pass election laws designed to limit access to the ballot box.
Florida's Ron DeSantis was the latest Republican governor to sign voter suppression legislation into law. The bill expands restrictions on mail-in voting, limits the number of ballot boxes in each county, and reiterates an existing ban on third-party ballot collection.
To make matters worse, when DeSantis signed the bill into law this week, all media was banned from the ceremony except for the conservative Fox News network.
In a blistering Thursday op-ed from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the paper's editorial board chastised DeSantis' shutout of media outlets, writing:
"Locking out the media is the latest sign of DeSantis' authoritarian grip on governing the nation's third-largest state. He increasingly acts like his role model, the tyrannical Donald Trump, who picked petty fights with news outlets and cherry-picked reporters who tossed softball questions.
Like Trump, DeSantis keeps revealing his thin skin, and his willful attacks on the press are dangerous in a free society. A Fox News spokesperson said afterward that the cable news channel 'did not request or mandate that the May 6 event and/or interview with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) be exclusive,' but the fact that Fox News would be a willing accomplice to this stunt shows it has become a national joke masquerading as a real news organization."
It goes on to skewer the law itself, and the overall Republican motivation for suppressing the right to vote:
"The oppressive law perpetuates the Big Lie of a stolen election by insinuating that Florida election laws needed fixing or don't prevent fraud. That's false. As DeSantis himself has said repeatedly, Florida ran a seamless election last November, with an impressive 77% turnout during a pandemic. Nearly half of all voters voted by mail, many of them Democrats, yet Republicans still won."
Adding insult to injury for Trump, the Sun Sentinel has distribution in Palm Beach, Florida, where Trump lives at his infamous Mar-a-Lago resort.
DeSantis welcomes comparisons between him and the one-term former President. Some even attribute DeSantis' national relevance to a Trump tweet that changed the course of the Florida governor's career. One of DeSantis' 2018 campaign ads even featured his toddler in a Trump onesie, with DeSantis teaching the tyke to "build the wall" of blocks.
Other than Trump himself—who may or may not run for reelection in 2024—DeSantis is a favorite to win the 2024 Republican nomination. Trump even floated the possibility of picking DeSantis as his running mate if Trump decides to run again.
Twitter users largely agreed with the Sun Sentinel's evaluation.
DeSantis acts like he’s invincible. He kicks out the press and signs a terribly flawed voting law in secret. The co… https://t.co/DRX4SGrdHt— Steve Bousquet (@Steve Bousquet)1620325161.0
We are suing the state of Florida! Democracy should NOT be a partisan issue. We are ready for the flight to pro… https://t.co/PEfJZ4JmjY— LaTosha Brown (@LaTosha Brown)1620353539.0
Vote this idiot out https://t.co/ydtwNsn8YP— Hugo BOSS JR. (@Hugo BOSS JR.)1620404735.0
No matter what they do we will still get out and vote. I wonder what laws they will come out with after they see it… https://t.co/zw4GfrLqXA— Eric Richards (@Eric Richards)1620324401.0
There are growing concerns that DeSantis could one day be seated behind the Resolute Desk, possibly as soon as 2025.
My read on Republican politics: When they find the most qualified guy (Romney, McCain, Dole) they get creamed. When… https://t.co/BHuoz0WjMF— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal)1620393265.0
Imagine if this fascist DeSantis becomes President... https://t.co/biantJ0liH— Shay-nuh (@Shay-nuh)1620145901.0
Many of the liberal takes on DeSantis sound like circa 2015 “Trump can’t win” takes— Oliver Willis (@Oliver Willis)1620392133.0
DeSantis is more dangerous than Trump.— chris evans (@chris evans)1620405439.0
Write this down. Ron DeathSentence is twice as dangerous as Donald Trump. https://t.co/1C4bGInvpL— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain)1620087727.0
The growing Republican effort to limit voting access makes that all the more likely.