Is Florida becoming Venezuela? In the early 2000s, Hugo Chavez orchestrated the erosion of Venezuela's constitutional safeguards through strategic legislative maneuvers. He was well advised by the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. By the time the populace grasped the gravity of the situation, the irreversible damage had been wrought. Chavez was installed as a lifetime dictator, crushing dissent, and presiding over the dismantling of a once-prosperous nation. Amidst scant citizen oversight, those in my generation awakened to a nightmare. Now, my peers languish in exile, leaving behind their livelihoods, homesteads, and cherished family legacies.
A concerted effort of this dystopian playbook is reverberating across the United States. Since the dawn of 2022, a wave of legislation in numerous states has sought to muzzle dissent by enacting or reinforcing laws targeting the "harassment" of election workers. In essence, dissent is silenced, skepticism shunned under the threat of legal reprisal. The latest battleground: Florida. The legislators championing HB721/SB 562, after the House & Senate refused to take up actual election security bills such as HB359 which allowed for hand counting and required election systems to be US made, HB1669 which would have fixed many of the glaring security holes in Florida’s absentee voting process, HB1101 that requiring citizenship verification which is not conducted currently and SB1602 citizenship verification, tightening the voter registration process, must confront our resolute opposition. Proponents justify their stance with rhetoric of "restoring civility” but let us scrutinize the facts.
Existing statutes like 836.12 already afford protection to elected officials, while Florida has a Disorderly Conduct Statute (877.03) that could address any legitimate concerns. Notably, the Office of Election Crimes and Security's exhaustive January 2024 report, spanning over 300 pages, presents not a single instance of election worker harassment. Consider, for instance, the case of a Wisconsin election worker charged with harassment, herself an attorney, forced to expend considerable resources defending against baseless allegations. Such anecdotes underscore the absence of a cogent legislative rationale for the proposed statute.
This insidious ploy serves to demoralize and deter citizens from scrutinizing the electoral process. We must meticulously document the votes on this bill, holding legislators accountable through a comprehensive scorecard. By endorsing or rebuffing these measures, they chart their course on the spectrum of public trust. The scorecard, accessible here:
will serve as a barometer of their commitment to safeguarding election integrity. Ultimately, they stand to either pass or fail the litmus test of our collective vigilance. Do they merit our trust in safeguarding the sanctity of our democracy?