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On Thursday morning, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill restricting access to the vote, holding a televised signing ceremony that excluded all press but Fox News.
Ahead of the ceremony, local reporters in Florida announced they’d been barred from entry, while supporters of the governor and a media team from Fox were permitted to enter. DeSantis frequently appears on Fox News as a guest.
“In about an hour, behind this door at a meeting facility at Airport Hilton in West Palm Beach, @GovRonDeSantis will sign law making it harder for some people to vote,” Anthony Man, a writer for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, tweeted Thursday morning. “No Florida reporters allowed in because he’s given an exclusive to cable channel Fox News for the bill signing.”
The event aired on Fox’s national morning show, “Fox & Friends,” and local press were reportedly allowed inside once the event was finished. In a statement Thursday morning, Fox News said it did not “request or mandate” that other media outlets be barred from entering the event.
Speaking to reporters later that day about the limited press coverage, DeSantis said he was “happy” to give Fox News exclusive access. “I think it went really, really well,” he said.
The Florida legislation, SB 90, includes several restrictions on ballot drop boxes and voting by mail, as well as new voter ID requirements and a ban on mailing voters unsolicited ballots. Under the new law, Florida voters will need to reapply to receive mail-in ballots more frequently. The law also says voters can only help up to two non-relatives deliver their mail-in ballots per election, curbing voters’ ability to conduct large-scale mail-in ballot drives.
SB 90 is one of hundreds of bills introduced by Republican lawmakers across the country that aim to make voting more difficult, after historic turnout numbers in the 2020 elections helped Democrats keep the House, win back the Senate and reclaim the White House.
Widespread voter fraud is not an issue in the United States. Nonetheless, Republicans ― spurred on by former President Donald Trump’s racist allegations that illegal votes were cast in largely non-white districts ― have pushed for measures that civil rights groups note will bring disproportionate harm to low-income voters and voters of color. Two lawsuits have already been filed challenging the Florida law, one by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and another by a group of organizations including Black Voters Matter, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and the League of Women Voters of Florida.
“The 2021 voter suppression law is just the latest in a long line of voter suppression laws targeting Florida’s Black voters, Latino voters, and voters with disabilities,” the NAACP LDF said in its lawsuit.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.