Judge Rules Against DeSantis Voter Suppression Law Fast-Track Attempt

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This week, a federal court rejected motions to dismiss certain legal claims against a suppressive, elections-related law recently signed by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. As reported by voting rights lawyer Marc Elias, the claims that were for now allowed to stand target restrictions on ballot drop boxes, shortened periods for mail-in ballot requests, restrictions on giving food and water to people standing in line at polling places, and new requirements surrounding third-party organizations conducting voter registration outreach.

An original lawsuit, including the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and individual voters as plaintiffs, claims that provisions of the Florida law in question are in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Among other provisions, the new requirements for voter outreach organizations order any group seeking to get voters registered “to tell residents that the organization might not deliver their application on time for the next election, and to also explain to residents that they can submit a registration form on their own rather than relying on the group to send it in,” as explained by CNN. The requirements can reduce the credibility of voter outreach organizations, no matter their track record.

Specifically, the Florida law also includes new restrictions on the timeframe in which drop boxes for mail-in ballots can be open for usage by voters. Now, for all such drop boxes that are not at the office of county Supervisors of Elections, they’re only permitted to be in use during the hours when early, in-person voting is accessible. Previously, there was no law on the books in Florida limiting the hours when drop boxes for mail-in ballots could be used. The law also includes a requirement for these drop boxes to be monitored by an actual person rather than through means like video surveillance, and it could be easy to see how such a requirement could make employing drop boxes more difficult.

The Florida law, which includes provisions other than these, mirrors efforts in other states to impose new restrictions on the electoral process despite the lack of meaningful evidence of any kind of systematic problem with election integrity in the United States. In Georgia, for instance, Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a law not too long ago that requires individual counties to have no more than one mail-in ballot drop box per early voting site or 100,000 registered voters, whichever number is smaller. With these requirements, Fulton County (which includes Atlanta) is set to go from the 38 drop boxes it had last year to just eight such boxes for future elections. These requirements create obvious problems for access to elections.