Florida election law is struck down by a judge; the judge cites race

Federal Judge ruled Thursday that portions of Florida's election law were invalid. He stated in a ruling that the Republican-led government used subtle tactics to suppress Black voters.

Florida election law is struck down by a judge; the judge cites race

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that the law increased rules regarding drop boxes, mailed ballots and other popular voting methods. This made it more difficult to vote for Black voters who have more socioeconomic disadvantages overall than white voters.

Walker wrote that "For the last 20 years, Florida's majority has attacked Black voters' voting rights." He said that given this history, any future changes to election laws should be approved by the courts.

After Republican ex-President Donald Trump's unfounded claims that the 2020 elections were stolen, Florida's Republican-led legislature passed election reforms. Democrats call such reforms partisan attempts to keep some voters off the ballot box.

Fentrice Driskell (Democratic state Rep.) said that it was just meant to fuel the narrative about the big lie and the fact that Trump won the election. This was in a telephone interview shortly after the ruling was made. "A system that is separated and unjust is something we cannot have," Fentrice Driskell, a Democratic state representative, said. It is against the Constitution to make it more difficult for Black voters to vote.

Ramon Alexander, Democratic State Representative, stated that he and others had argued before the bill was passed that it would adversely affect voters of color. Walker has since agreed to this.

Alexander, who is Black, said that Florida has a history of discrimination at its ballot box. "The bill" was simply another roadblock for Black voters trying to cast legal votes.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis made the election bill a priority and said that the state would appeal Walker's decision.

DeSantis stated that "in front of certain district judges we know we will lose regardless of what because they aren't going to follow the law." DeSantis did not specify why he believed the ruling was incorrect.

The case will be appealed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Circuit Court of Appeals, Atlanta, Georgia is considered more conservative.

Republican Senator Dennis Baxley, the bill's sponsor, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The debate was mainly about vote-by-mail ballots, and how they are collected. Walker overturned a law provision that limited when someone could use a dropbox to submit their ballot. He also removed a section that prohibited anyone from engaging in conversation with voters who are waiting to vote. Walker stated that the provision in question "discourages groups that give food, water and other forms of encouragement voters waiting in long lines to vote from continuing to do so."

Walker cited testimony to show that this was indeed the case.

Former President Barack Obama appointed Walker to replace a provision in the law that placed new restrictions on the registration of voters groups. This included requiring people who register voters to submit their permanent addresses and names to the state.

Walker directed that the Legislature must obtain court approval before it can write new laws regarding the same issues he had overturned for the next ten years.

He wrote that Floridans have been forced to live with a law that violates multiple fronts over the past year. "Without preclearance Florida could continue to enact these laws, replacing them each legislative session if they are viewed with suspicion by the courts. This scheme is a mockery to the rule of law.


 

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