Federal judge issues injunction against Florida’s latest election law, cites discrimination

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It's a victory for 3rd-party voter registration organizations, at least for now.

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction targeting aspects of changes to election law passed by the Legislature this year, after a hearing last week in which plaintiffs argued that the changes violated the Constitution by stopping third party voter registration organizations from doing their work.

Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of the plaintiffs — including the Florida State Conference of Branches and Youth Units of the NAACP, Equal Ground Education Fund, Voters of Tomorrow, Disability Rights Florida, Alianza for Progress, Alianza Center, UnidosUS and Florida Alliance for Retired Americans — against provisions in SB 7050, which restricts what third-party voter registration groups are able to do.

Walker’s order focuses on the bill “barring non-citizens from registering to vote,” and “exposing individuals working for third-party registration organizations to felony prosecution for retaining voter information without telling them to whom the prohibition applies, what they can retain, and when they can retain it.”

“The Free State of Florida is simply not free to exceed the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution,” Walker writes.

Walker agreed with the plaintiffs that the “citizenship requirement” in the law violated the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, saying SB 7050 is an “omnibus election bill that imposes harsh new restrictions and penalties on 3PVROs engaging in voter registration and voter engagement activities and makes it harder for eligible Floridians — and in particular voters of color and voters with disabilities — to participate in the State’s elections.”

Walker rejected the defendants’ pleas to defer ruling until September, arguing that could allow “retroactive punishments” of 3PVROs.

“Removing the threat of enforcement — the risk of a $50,000 fine, automatic cancellation of the 3PVROs’ registrations, and further civil enforcement by the Attorney General — would directly redress Plaintiffs’ injuries. In other words, they could continue the voter registration work that they have been hired to do, without fear of Defendants penalizing their organizations with devastating fines, automatic cancellation of their registrations, and other civil enforcement actions.”

Walker also contends the law is a solution in search of alleged problems.

“The State of Florida is correct to seek integrity in our electoral system. Sound election laws ensure the people are heard without distortion from negligent and bad faith actors. Here, however, Florida’s solutions for preserving election integrity are too far removed from the problems it has put forward as justifications,” the order adds.

An appeal is all but inevitable, in keeping with many of Walker’s initial rulings against the state of Florida, whose defendants in this case include Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and the state’s Supervisors of Elections.

SB 7050 imposed sweeping changes, but arguably received more publicity for clarifying Florida’s “resign to run” law ensuring Gov. Ron DeSantis could run for President without resigning. The plaintiffs’ filing did not address that, nor did the judge’s ruling.

Meanwhile, Florida Democrats did not hesitate to celebrate the preliminary injunction.

“This is a huge win for the people of Florida,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Nikki Fried. “Our democracy works best when everyone has access to the ballot box, and I applaud the court for recognizing that and actively protecting the rights of Floridians.
Continued Fried: “Ron and his sidekicks in the legislature clearly, to quote the injunction, struggle with ‘governing within the bounds set by the United States Constitution’ — a struggle driven by their endless and unquenchable thirst for power. I don’t know what’s more embarrassing — his recent scorecard in the courts or his cratering poll numbers.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


15 comments

  • Michael K

    July 3, 2023 at 5:45 pm

    Voter suppression is a Jim Crow relic that should not be revived. Shame on our governor and his legislative enablers who ignore the Constitution.

    • MH/Duuuval

      July 5, 2023 at 3:37 pm

      Sorry, Michael K, but voter suppression has been the primary thrust of the GOP electoral machine since John Roberts declared racism no longer existed a decade ago.

      It’s the only way to account for how a permanent minority has had such electoral success. That plus more money than Midas.

  • Bill Pollard

    July 3, 2023 at 6:46 pm

    The judge said the law is probably unconstitutional. Many of the laws dealing with civil rights that have been passed this last year are unconstitutional.

  • DDC

    July 3, 2023 at 7:35 pm

    How about enforcing the “resign to run” portion of this bill.

  • Bueler

    July 3, 2023 at 8:02 pm

    So one judge knows better than a body of legislators gathered to discuss legislation. Hm, sounds like a bit of leftist politics. Probably a George Soros judge!😃😃😃😃😃😃

    • Lynn Fenster

      July 3, 2023 at 11:06 pm

      Somebody needs to go back and learn Civics.

    • Nazis get killed

      July 4, 2023 at 5:26 am

      Classic Nazi white Qristian

    • JD

      July 4, 2023 at 6:24 am

      Have you watched the “debates” in the state house or senate of late? There are one or 2 Democrats usually decrying some Draconian Right Republican backed legislature, and then the Republicans calling a vote and voting for whatever the piece is. No rebuttals, no debate, like the mafia running ram shot over a sanitation board. Thank God there are judicial checks and balances left.

    • Earl Pitts American

      July 5, 2023 at 5:01 pm

      Good catch Bueler,
      Just so you know Judge Hinkle, the long term Northern District Fed. Judge is ready to retire. Hinkle was the go-to-Judge for leftist sympathic rullings. Walker smells blood in the water and is rushing in to take Hinkle’s go-to-lefty-Judge place in Florida.
      Nothing can be done about this it just is what it is and always has been. Its frustrating but those of us properly schooled in Florida Jurisprudance know how to work around it.
      Thank you Bueler,
      Earl Pitts American Esquirer

  • Leonard

    July 3, 2023 at 9:50 pm

    If you are not a citizen—why in the world should you be permitted to participate in our elections? That is almost as ridiculous as having a nation with no borders….but is far more reckless and destructive. If someone is a “non-citizen”—that means they are a citizen of another country…..good luck going to another country as an American and demanding to participate in their elections. This further exposes the leftist strategy of registering every living breathing person they can find…sign them up for absentee voting…and them harvesting their ballots….

    • You’re Dead Nazi Cunt

      July 4, 2023 at 5:27 am

      Die white Nazi

    • JD

      July 4, 2023 at 6:38 am

      I think the article misquoted the judge a hair. It wasn’t he blocking the part barring the registering of non-citizens to vote, it was he was blocking the part barring of non-citizens to register people (assuming citizens) to note.

      From Forbes:

      “The ruling blocked a part of the law that barred noncitizens from registering people to vote—even if they’re legally residing in the U.S.—which Walker ruled was likely in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause for discriminating on the basis of not being a citizen.”

    • Victoria Burlew

      July 4, 2023 at 11:30 am

      It’s not that part that’s in question. It’s the 3rd party registrations they’re commenting about. This article really didn’t make that very clear.

  • Martin

    July 4, 2023 at 2:34 pm

    This odumbo appointed judge will be shortly over-riuled on appeal.

    • MH/Duuuval

      July 5, 2023 at 3:40 pm

      You and Ron can count on Ron’s handpicked stooges on the Florida Supreme Court to do his will.

Comments are closed.


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