TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (WSVN) - After months of delay, primary and general election dates have been set for three seats in the Florida legislature that are soon to be vacant and are currently held by Democratic lawmakers.

Thursday’s announcement, stemming from a Florida law requiring sitting lawmakers to resign before they can run for another office, has drawn criticism toward Gov. Ron DeSantis.

State Sen. Perry Thurston, and State Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy, are running to replace the late Alcee Hastings’ congressional seat.

The delay by DeSantis has been seen by some as a partisan move to diminish to power of Democrats in Tallahassee.

State Senate Democratic leader Lauren Book slammed the governor in a statement, saying, “The strength of any democracy is the ability for voters to be represented and heard. Sadly, the governor has chosen to deny voters in Senate District 33 and House Districts 88 and 94 their constitutional right to be represented in Tallahassee during the 2022 legislative session. No Floridian’s vote or voice should ever be silenced.”

The date of the special elections, March 8, means the winners will miss almost the entire 2022 legislative session that starts in January and ends March 11.

All three seats are in heavily Democratic areas, and it would leave residents in State Senate District 33 and State House Districts 88 and 94 without representation during that time.

The vacancies will go into effect at the beginning of January. They have been certain since the end of July.

The announcement comes 12 days after the Harvard Election Law Clinic filed a lawsuit on behalf of voters in Broward and Palm Beach counties seeking a judge’s order compelling DeSantis to set those election dates. The governor has not publicly commented as to why he has waited until now to do so.

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