Challenges against the election law, formerly known as SB 90 established in the 2021 Florida legislative session, will be allowed to move forward following a 62-page order by Chief U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Florida, Mark Walker, on Friday.
Some of the organizations behind the challenges that were approved by Walker on Friday include; The Florida Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and UnidosUS.
Signed in May, and heavily favored by Republican officials, SB 90 was said to be designed to ensure election integrity with the institution of new requirements for ballot drop boxes, mail-in voting, and voter registration.
The law was seen by Democrats as a direct response to election fraud allegations raised during the 2020 presidential campaign between current President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
The organizations challenging the law argue the provisions could – and purposely – restrict voting by Black, Latino, and disabled residents in the state of Florida.
According to a report by The News Service of Florida that was republished by CBS Miami, the plaintiffs argue that the restrictions are a continuation of a long line of efforts aimed at making it more difficult for Black people and other minorities to vote.
The defendants, which include Secretary of State Laurel Lee and Attorney General Ashley Moody who both were previously denied dismissal from the case, denied all allegations.
Lee argued that the challenges be dismissed because the plaintiffs’ argument that the law limits voting rights is not true because vote-by-mail restrictions do not have to do with a resident’s right to vote. She also added it should be dismissed because the plaintiffs’ claims focus on “vulnerable” residents instead of the state’s voting population as a whole.
As far as the racially targeted allegations, Lee – whose attorneys wrote in a June motion that the plaintiffs are dwelling on the past – denied any allegation involving racially motivated restrictions.
“She is wrong on both points,” Walker wrote in his order. “In sum, defendant Lee’s arguments that restrictions on mail-in ballots do not implicate the right to vote is unsound and unsupported by precedent.”
Regarding the racial allegations, Walker wrote that the plaintiffs have “plausibly alleged that the old, outdated intentions of the current generation are tainting Florida’s election code,” and that the “plaintiffs allegations draw a straight, shameful line from the discriminatory laws of the 1880s to today.”
He added, “Whether plaintiffs can prove such a link is another matter. At this stage, however, these allegations will do.”
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