On March 31, a federal judge ruled Florida’s new election law, SB 90, to be unconstitutional.
As The Epoch Times reported May 1, 2021, the Republican-controlled state Senate previously approved SB 90 (pdf), which overhauled Florida election law ahead of the 2022 midterm elections and 2024 presidential election.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill into law May 6, 2021, with immediate effect.
The law was immediately challenged by multiple liberal advocacy groups, including the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters of Florida, and the NAACP.
On March 31, 2022, Chief Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, appointed by President Barack Obama in 2012, said the law is discriminatory and ruled the measure to be unconstitutional. Walker also issued a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the bulk of the new rules.
Walker further ordered Florida to get pre-approval from a federal judge for its election law changes, an order the Columbia Law Review defines as a “seldom used path to federal preclearance of changes to state and local voting practices” provided by Section 3(C) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which allows courts to force jurisdictions to get pre-approval on election law changes.
Upon finding that a jurisdiction violated the 14th or 15th Amendment, this rarely-used measure requires the cited jurisdiction to submit for preapproval any “voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting.”
The new rules determined by Walker to be discriminatory are:
- When making an address change to their voter registration by phone or electronically, voters must provide their date of birth and their Florida driver’s license number or Florida ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number.
- When making a name or party affiliation change, voters must submit a Florida Voter Registration Application that includes their Florida driver’s license number or Florida ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number.
- To receive a vote-by-mail ballot, a voter must have a request on file to receive one.
- Voters requesting a vote-by-mail ballot for themselves, either in-person or by phone, must provide their name, address, date of birth, a Florida driver’s license number or Florida ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number. For written requests, the voter must provide a signature.
- If an immediate family member or legal guardian needs to request a vote-by-mail ballot on a voter’s behalf, the requester must provide their name, address, date of birth, a Florida driver’s license number or Florida ID card number, or the last four digits of their social security number. The requestor must also define their relationship to the voter, and for written requests, they must provide a signature.
- Secure ballot drop boxes must be continuously monitored by elections personnel and will only be available at the Supervisor of Elections office and at all early voting sites during early voting hours.
The ruling will likely be appealed.