The state of Florida has agreed to forgo enforcement of key elements of new voting restrictions that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law only Monday, including a highly contested disclosure mandate for voter-registration organizations.
In a notice to Chief Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Secretary of State Laurel Lee said officials also would place a hold on provisions restricting use of ballot drop boxes to county election supervisors’ main or permanent branch offices used for early voting.
That’s in line with an order Walker issued on March 31 that, because of its 20-year pattern of discrimination against the voting rights of Black people, the state must submit any voting law changes to the U.S. Department of Justice or the courts for “preclearance” before they can take effect.
“While the state disagrees that preclearance is appropriate, and has sought a stay of the post-trial order before the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the] Eleventh Circuit, these sections will not be ‘enforced’ absent further guidance,” Lee’s notice reads.
The notice includes an attachment documenting that Lee’s office, which oversees elections in Florida, has notified the 67 county elections supervisors of the hold.
DeSantis made no mention of any of this when signing the new law (SB 524) on Monday. That measure places additional restrictions on use of drop boxes for mail-in ballots; and hikes penalties for voter registration organizations that miss deadlines for turning in registration forms to as much as $50,000 per year; and requires registration forms to warn that the organizations might miss deadlines for turning them in to officials.
Those provisions are on hold now, at least while the state’s appeal of Walker’s ruling remains pending. Lee gave no signal the state would run them past the U.S. Department of Justice or a court.
Other provisions, including creation of a joint civilian/FDLE force to investigate and prosecute voter fraud, remain in effect.
“The decision in our case makes clear that the state must seek federal approval before implementing any law or policy that impacts third-party voter registration organizations, drop boxes, or helping people in voting lines because of Florida’s history of racial discrimination in voting,” said Caren Short, senior supervising attorney for Voting Rights with the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a written statement.
“This law clearly falls under this requirement, and we call on the state to seek federal preclearance or, better yet, cease its latest attempt to create barriers to voting.”
“Florida’s leaders should be making voting more accessible,” said Michelle Kanter Cohen, policy director and senior counsel with Fair Elections Center. “Instead, they are doubling down on voter intimidation and other barriers to voting and voter registration that make it harder for Floridians to make their voices heard.”
Both organizations participated in the litigation that prompted Walker’s ruling, League of Women Voters v. Lee; they represented the Harriet Tubman Freedom Fighters, one of the voting-rights organizations challenging 2021’s SB 90.
Walker ruled that central element of SB 90 violated the U.S. Constitution and Voting Rights Act.
Moreover, citing what he saw as a 20-year history of voting restrictions designed to depress the Black vote in order to hurt Democrats, Walker invoked Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act, which authorizes judges to “bail-in” jurisdictions with histories of bias for federal scrutiny of any voting law revisions.
–Michael Moline, Florida Phoenix
Tony Mack says
So Governor DeSantis and the Republican legislature — a question…
The State of Maine has no restrictive voter ID laws, same day voter registration, no excuse absentee mail in voting, mail-in voting, early voting and 24/7 drop boxes — and virtually no voter fraud. What are they doing wrong?
“What are they doing wrong?’
They voted Blue in 2020 – so they are obviously not a good example for Republicans to follow.
As Scalise said regarding the GOP demotions of Liz Cheney … ‘“It’s not about right or wrong,” said House whip Steve Scalise, revealing perhaps more than he intended, “it’s about the focus of our conference, and focusing on pushing back on the agenda that’s being pushed by the Biden administration.”’
So, I wouldn’t expect anything to pass the Florida Legislature just because it’s a good idea, or useful, or needed. The question that must be answered is “What will it do for my career and for the people I need to placate to keep my career?”
Virtually a fraction of Florida’s population and way less electoral votes.
It just may be that Maine does not suffer from the same degree of “melaninophobia” that Florida’s Republican establishment does.
Wait! Wait! I’m raising my hand! “I know! I know!” President Biden WON there in Maine . . . Right? LOL!
DeSantis himself said Florida’s election was one that others should emulate . . . here is his quote after trump won the state:
“The way Florida did it, I think, inspires confidence. I think that’s how elections should be run,” DeSantis said. “We’re now being looked at as the state that did it right, and the state that these other states should emulate.”
What a complete “right winged jerk”!
Can I add “ HYPOCRITICAL right winged jerk”?
Absolutely Froggy! You are right on!
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! Vote desantis and other extreme right winged trumpists out!
My my my…… what will the cheating , liberal. socialist, anti=American demonrats voters do now ?
So this is what our State Governments Agenda is continuous Court battles while fighting Culture Wars and everything else sits undone while DUHSantis spins his BS on camera and in the news? Vote Accordingly
Deborah Coffey says
Another nonexistent problem being “fixed” by Republicans and racking up taxpayers’ bills for lawyers and court fees.
DeathSantis doesn’t hide his discrimination so please everyone remember this when you go vote. He is doing his best not to allow people of color to vote because he knows they are smarter and won’t be voting for him. Any politician that discriminates against anyone of color, religion or birth place has no business being a public servant. He needs to go to Mar A Lago and just shine Trumps golf clubs and stay out of politics.
The red tidal wave is coming in November. You had better learn to swim or move to California.
Maine has a Democratic Governor , and doing nothing wrong . Florida has a Republican Governor , where people have to be crucified first to get a chance to vote , especially blind people , etc.
Please let us know when it is safe to come back to Florida. Everything I see ltley coming from that state is putting the citizens especially the children in danger. We can not even safely visit the state due to lack of mask wearing and a political environment that has caused racial tensions to boil over. Please let us knw when Florida is safe again and not in the control of tyrants.
Just another feel good moment for the Poser, of course he’s not going to mention it’s on hold as long as he can look good in front of the cameras and his cult.
What a sad commentary that a governor can “restrict voting rights” and his supporters just nod their heads. What has happened to our ideas of democracy? The fact that supposed Patriots support restricting democracy is just absurd. Proves they don’t know the definition of the word.