Minority advocacy groups have come together to challenge Florida’s recently signed election law overhaul in court.
Six organizations filed a lawsuit in federal court in Tallahassee alleging the new law discriminates against Black and Brown voters. The complaint, filed in court on Monday, said the legislation (SB 90) represents the culmination of a flawed and rushed process, continuing Florida’s dark legacy of election reforms that harm minority voting rights.
The law “contains a series of measures that prohibit or restrict access to the ballot and voting mechanisms that Black and Latino voters used to great effect in the 2020 elections,” states the complaint.
Plaintiffs in the suit include Florida Rising Together, Faith in Florida, UnidosUS, the Equal Ground Education Fund, the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the elections bill in a Fox News exclusive where all other media were kept out of the ceremony.
“Right now, I have what we think is the strongest election integrity measures in the country,” he told Fox News audiences.
But critics say the legislation instead perpetuated former President Donald Trump’s false allegations that the 2020 presidential election was stolen. The legislation places additional restrictions on mail-in ballots, including reducing the availability of drop boxes for delivering ballots by hand and requiring a picture ID to request a mail-in ballot.
It also imposes new restrictions on campaigning near polling sites, including barring anyone from handing out blankets or water to people standing in lines.
These measures will disproportionately impact minority communities, the suit alleges, because the longest lines on Election Day frequently occur in minority communities, often because elections officials establish fewer precincts in those areas.
It’s no coincidence, the suit alleges, that the law passed after record minority turnout in the 2020 elections. That helped elect President Joe Biden over Trump, though Trump notably won Florida’s electoral votes.
Plaintiffs sued Secretary of State Laurel Lee. The complaint also names multiple elections supervisors — Highlands County’s Penny Ogg, Gadsden’s Shirley Green Knight, Osceola’s Mary Jane Arrington and Hillsborough’s Craig Latimer — as plaintiffs, but says they are representatives of all elections supervisors in the state of Florida.
The suit says the state law violates the Voting Rights Act “because these provisions were adopted for the purpose of denying voters of color full and equal access to the political process.”
The lawsuit aims to stop implementing any parts of the new election law itemized in the suit. That includes any requirements for third-party voter registration groups, including the plaintiffs, to tell anyone registering that there’s a chance the paperwork won’t be processed before an election.
The complaint asks a judge to declare all of the listed provisions as “illegal and unconstitutional.”