Corporations caught in the middle of Florida election debate

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Corporations are being asked to get involved in the debate over making changes to Florida’s elections laws, but Gov. Ron DeSantis and others are telling them to stay in their own lane.

Under the legislation, ballot drop boxes would be banned. Long-standing requests for mail-in ballots would be shortened to the current election cycle and only the voter or their immediate family could legally have the vote-by-mail ballot.

The bill was supposed to come up last week, but it was postponed because of all the interest focused on it.

“We want to get it right,” State Sen. Dennis Baxley, the bill’s sponsor, said. “We’re trying to be responsive to those critics that have submitted things.”

One lawmaker is calling on corporations to weigh in on the legislation and make their voices heard.

“I think we can learn a lot from what is happening in Georgia, and look at the way the corporations are taking on the issue there and ask for corporations in Florida to exhibit the same sort of responsibility,” State Rep. Fentrice Driskell said.

The bill’s House sponsor has now softened a proposed ban on handing out food and water to voters within 150 feet of a polling place. Instead, the legislation would outlaw handing out anything if it’s an attempt to influence voters.

The Black Lives Matter Fund is among the chorus of voices calling for corporations to stand up to the legislation. The fund paid for a full-page ad over the weekend calling the legislation “Jim Crow 2.0.”

“Intimidating policymakers with extortionary attempts and those kinds of messages I don’t think is productive,” Baxley said.

Monday, Gov. DeSantis said corporations are welcome to discuss taxes and regulations as much as they’d like.

“But when they get involved in elections legislation or things that do not concern their business or their operations, to me, that is interfering in the political process,” the governor said.

The legislation is set to be back on the calendar for Wednesday morning. Six proposed amendments from Democrats are already pending. If the bill clears the Florida House on Wednesday, its next stop would be the Senate.