Lori Rozsa, Washington Post, March 31, 2022
Saying that “Florida has a grotesque history of racial discrimination,” a federal district judge struck down most of a controversial election law passed in the state last year, and said the state can’t make any major changes to election regulations for the next 10 years unless a judge clears them first.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker agreed with voters who sued the state that the bill “runs roughshod over the right to vote, unnecessarily making voting harder for all eligible Floridians, unduly burdening disabled voters, and intentionally targeting minority voters — all to improve the electoral prospects of the party in power.”
Walker said that for the next decade, changes to voting laws that affect third-party registration efforts, drop boxes, or “line warming” — where volunteers offer water or chairs to people waiting in line to vote — must be approved first by the court.
“Florida has repeatedly, recently, and persistently acted to deny Black Floridians access to the franchise,” Walker wrote. “This Court also finds that preclearance would prevent future violations.”
Voting rights activists hailed the ruling as a “landmark decision,” while Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) dismissed it as “performative partisanship.”
DeSantis (R) signed the bill, known as SB 90, into law in May, live on Fox News Channel. Although he had touted the state’s elections seven months earlier as flawless, he still pushed changes that critics say would make it harder to vote.
At a news conference in West Palm Beach on Thursday, DeSantis said Walker’s ruling “was not unforseen,” and that it will be reversed on appeal.