It didn’t take long for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to shift into campaign mode after Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial elections bill.
Facing criticism from outlets for giving Fox News an exclusive event at the Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach, DeSantis signed an elections integrity measure (SB 90) on Thursday that many claims suppress voter turnout. The law increases restrictions on drop boxes, requires voters to sign up for mail-in ballots every year, and limits who can drop off ballots at drop boxes.
“Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections,” said DeSantis. “Floridians can rest assured that our state will remain a leader in ballot integrity. Elections should be free and fair, and these changes will ensure this continues to be the case in the Sunshine State.”
Florida took action this legislative session to increase transparency and strengthen the security of our elections. I’d like to thank the leaders on this issue – @WiltonSimpson, @ChrisSprowls, @dennisbaxley, and @GovGoneWild pic.twitter.com/ZCdrPm2rsZ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) May 6, 2021
The new voting law, however, is facing immediate legal challenges.
The move drew swift backlash as a coalition, including the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Black Voters Matter Fund, announced a lawsuit within minutes of the signing. Another lawsuit filed by the NAACP labeled the new law as “the latest in a long line of voter suppression laws targeting Florida’s Black voters, Latino voters, and voters with disabilities.”
The signing was also lambasted by DeSantis’ most vocal opponent. Fried, an outspoken critic of DeSantis, called him an “authoritarian dictator” during a press conference at the Capitol, likening his use of Fox News to state TV used by communist regimes.
“He did this in a closed location with only political supporters, using our taxpayers’ dollars with the only camera watching was Fox News,” Fried told reporters following the bill signing. “He is using Fox News as a state news source. We see this in other locations across the world — China, Venezuela.”
“So are the Republicans afraid of taking their message to the people?” Fried continued. “Because the only way they’ve been able to win elections is through lies, misinformation, fraud, and now voter suppression. But I can tell you the people of the state of Florida will not be suppressed, their voices will not be shut down. They will rise up. They will see Ron DeSantis for who he is, and that is an authoritarian dictator who is borderline fascism that we are seeing here in the state of Florida.”
Following her press conference, the lone statewide Democrat released a video on Twitter, promising to do something about. Fried is expected to run for governor in 2022.
— Nikki Fried (@nikkifried) May 6, 2021