Judge Rules Against Florida GOP In Voter Suppression Challenge Case

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A federal judge has (mostly) upheld a court challenge to a suppressive, election-related law that was signed earlier this year by Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. Specifically, the judge ruled on motions for summary judgment that had been brought by parties to the case — including, in these proceedings, officials in the state of Florida, and the judge concluded that the case could almost entirely stand and head to trial next year. The trial is apparently set for January.

As recapped by the voting rights organization Democracy Docket, requesting a summary judgment “is when one party asks the judge to rule on a portion or all of a case without a full trial.” In this instance, authorities in Florida alleged that “Plaintiffs lack standing to challenge these laws, and in the alternative, that no dispute of material fact exists as to each claim,” as summarized by the judge, but the judge handling this case concluded differently. As Democracy Docket explains, the judge found that plaintiffs ‘demonstrated individual and organizational injuries as a result of S.B. 90 and therefore they “have standing to proceed at the summary judgment stage.”’ S.B. 90 is the bill that is under dispute.

The judge did rule in favor of a motion for summary judgment that had been brought by authorities in Florida regarding a claim from the plaintiffs behind the case that banning the distribution of food and water to voters standing in line at polling places is always unconstitutional. Thus, disputes over that element of the controversial law — which bans such distributions — will be struck from further proceedings. All other claims, however, are heading to trial, including a dispute over new restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations operating in the state. As summarized by CNN, those new rules include a requirement for groups handling voter registrations to tell targets of their outreach that they might not get their registration applications to local authorities on time for whatever would be the next election.

Such a required warning could negatively impact public trust in organizations doing voter registration work, and issues extend from there. For example, the law limits the hours that most drop boxes for mail-in ballots (except those that are at supervisors of elections offices) can be available, capping those timeframes at whenever early, in-person voting is open, and that’s it. The law also demands that there be in-person supervision of individual drop boxes, which could obviously — in theory — limit the ability of local authorities to put such boxes out at all. Read more at this link.