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Voting rights advocates file lawsuit challenging Florida voter restrictions law

The organizations claim SB 90 violates voters' rights by "imposing barriers on voters of color and disproportionately locking them out of democracy.”
Credit: AP
Election worker Najeh Fisher places a vote-by-mail ballot for the Nov. 3 general election into an official ballot drop box at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, in Doral, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

A group of voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit Tuesday aimed at blocking Florida's implementation of the recent voting restrictions law.

The bill, SB 90, was signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this month. 

The legislation changes Florida's vote-by-mail system, including restricting drop box use to a county's early voting hours rather than allowing ballots to be dropped off 24/7, making in-person monitoring of all drop box locations mandatory as well as a whole host of other security measures for vote-by-mail. Voters would also be required to submit vote-by-mail requests every election cycle instead of every two cycles. 

The lawsuit was filed by Advancement Project National OfficeDemos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF on behalf of Florida Rising, Faith in Florida, Equal Ground Education Fund, UnidosUS, the Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx.

Critics of the bill, including the group of organizations involved in this lawsuit, have called the measure a piece of voter suppression. Democratic lawmakers have also said SB 90 would make it harder for seniors, people of color, and individuals with disabilities to vote. 

“Every voter, regardless of race, background or zip code, should be able to make themselves heard at the ballot box,” said Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of Advancement Project National Office. “SB 90 aggressively and discriminately violates this principle by imposing barriers on voters of color and disproportionately locking them out of democracy.”

The legal complaint asserts that the new law violates the Voting Rights Act and disproportionately disenfranchises Black and Brown voters.

"Voting rights have never been given to people of color; we had to fight for them. We are not asking for special treatment; we ask to keep in place measures that have proven to increase voter participation in our community," Laudi Campo, deputy director of Hispanic Federation Florida said.

This isn't the first lawsuit that has been filed in response to SB 90.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter and the Florida Alliance For Retired Americans filed a lawsuit challenging the bill just minutes after Gov. DeSantis signed it into law.

A separate federal lawsuit was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

According to the complaint, the percentage of mail-in votes cast by African American and Latino voters in 2020 nearly doubled since the 2016 election. The complaint argues that SB 90 gives citizens fewer options to exercise their right to vote.

You can read the full complaint here.

Watch the organizations discuss the lawsuit below.

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