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State Rep. Anna Eskamani discusses voter accessibility, money in politics, unemployment

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State Rep. Anna Eskamani. Photo: Isaac Babcock, WMFE

State Rep. Anna Eskamani’s name has been floated as a potential gubernatorial candidate. The Orlando-area Democrat is non-committal on if or when she’ll declare a candidacy, but she’s spoken out on the need for her party to course correct to start winning elections- and is channeling the kind of movement that Stacey Abrams adopted in Georgia. 

Eskamani joins Intersection to discuss voter accessibility, money in politics and reforming the unemployment system.

Eskamani supports the For the People Act, which is a sweeping reform package introduced to Congress that aims to get big money out of politics, expand the right to vote and enhance protections for the right to vote. She says these issues are important locally.

“The reality is, our governor has every intention to go backwards when it comes to expanding the right to vote, despite the fact that Florida had absolutely no cases of election fraud,” Eskamani says. 

She says even though the governor bragged about how well Florida managed the 2020 election cycle, he’s promoting the idea that certain types of voter fraud exist in the state. 

“He has now introduced a flurry of bills to completely rollback access to vote by mail to put into place these restrictions that are not even an issue in Florida, like ballot harvesting, which doesn’t happen here,” Eskamani says.

She says some of her colleagues in the state legislature are making it harder to vote by introducing a bill that would require people to apply to vote by mail every single election cycle. Eskamani says this would affect seniors, who often vote by mail.

“We’re intentionally creating barriers for those that have more efficacy compared to those that don’t, and we shouldn’t be pursuing efforts to make voting harder,” she says. 

Eskamani says the For the People Act would set an even playing field for voters by getting big money out of politics.

“An everyday person will have just as much influence in the process compared to someone who has been buying their influence for generations now,” she says. 

During the upcoming legislative session, Eskamani hopes to improve the unemployment system by increasing the weekly benefit amount, increasing the amount of weeks it’s available and adding more oversight. She says she’s frustrated by the lack of Republican interest to act on the issue.

“[We’ve had] not one hearing, not one discussion focused on the unemployment system in the Republican-majority legislature, despite the fact that many of my Republican colleagues campaigned on fixing the unemployment system,” Eskamani says. 

Asked when she would make a decision on whether she will run for Governor, Eskamani says she’s focused on registering new voters as part of a political committee that aims to register 25,000 new voters in 2021. 

“I’m really excited to be leading that role, and do whatever I can to get Florida into the right direction,” Eskamani says. 

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