State Watch

Florida’s new voting law immediately hit with lawsuits

Voting rights groups on Thursday filed a pair of lawsuits targeting a restrictive GOP-crafted voting bill, just moments after it was signed into law by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. 

The complaints, both filed in federal court in Tallahassee, claim the law, SB 90, illegally restricts access to the ballot box, with one of the suits alleging the measure will result in illegal discrimination against voters of color.

“SB 90 is a bill that purports to solve problems that do not exist,” reads one of the suits. “[It] caters to a dangerous lie about the 2020 election that threatens our most basic democratic values, and, in the end, makes it harder to vote without adequate justification for doing so.”

The legal challenges come after Florida Republicans passed the measure on near party-line votes over objections from civil rights groups and every one of the state’s 67 county-level election supervisors.

Public debate over the Florida law has been similar to the row over a recently passed Georgia law. GOP proponents argue the new restrictions are needed to ensure election integrity and bolster voter confidence, while critics deride the measures as a cynical ploy to suppress likely Democratic voters, including racial minorities, using former President Trump’s repeated lies about the 2020 election being subject to widespread fraud as a pretext.   

Among the limits imposed by the Florida measure are new restrictions on the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, additional requirements on voters seeking alternatives to in-person voting and a ban on members of the public distributing food or water to those waiting in line to vote.

One of the lawsuits is backed by Democratic attorney Marc Elias, who filed the complaint on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans. 

A second challenge, brought Thursday by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause, alleges the law violates constitutional protections and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Zachery Morris, a lawyer with LDF, said the new law represents a “backlash to Black voters’ historic turnout during the 2020 election season.”

“The law’s suppressive and discriminatory provisions make it clear that the Florida Legislature’s goal is to erect additional hurdles to inhibit Florida voters, especially disabled voters, Black voters, and Latino voters, from accessing the ballot box,” Morris said in a statement.

Reid Wilson and Marty Johnson contributed to this report.

Tags Donald Trump Florida Ron DeSantis voting rights

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