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Florida voting rights advocates challenge new restrictions on voting by mail

Posted by 
Adriana Jimenez
Adriana Jimenez
 15 days ago

(MIAMI) Citing barriers for Black and Latino communities, a coalition of voting rights organizations filed a lawsuit Monday, May 24, aimed at blocking a new voting restrictions law in Florida. 

Earlier this month, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an elections bill (SB 90) that was one of the most controversial issues of the Florida 2021 legislative session. The bill restricts the use of ballot drop boxes to a county's early voting hours rather than allowing voters to drop ballots off 24/7, requires all drop boxes to be monitored in person, and creates additional security and accountability measures related to vote-by-mail ballots. It also bans elections supervisors from mailing a vote-by-mail ballot to a person without a specific request, adds other ID requirements, requires voters to renew their standing request for a vote-by-mail ballot every election cycle instead of every two cycles, and limits who can deliver a mail ballot on a voter's behalf, and how.

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Miami-Dade County drive-thru ballot drop box at the Miami-Dade County Election Department in Miami, Florida on November 3, 2020Getty Images

 "Limiting drop box hours and increasing measures on how ballots can be delivered will only deter people from casting their ballots and increase lines at polling places. These restrictions are even more damaging to Latinx, black and brown, and working-class voters who work irregular hours and rely on their community for assistance in dropping off ballots.", said Giulianna Di Lauro, Poder Latinx Florida State Director, one of the organizations that filed the suit. 

Advancement Project National Office, Demos, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF filed the lawsuit Monday on behalf of Florida Rising, Faith in Florida, Equal Ground Education Fund, UnidosUS, the Hispanic Federation, and Poder Latinx. In addition, The League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter, and the Florida Alliance For Retired Americans also filed a lawsuit challenging SB 90 just minutes after Gov. DeSantis signed it into law. However, the latest litigation points specifically to efforts to disenfranchise Black and Latino voters.

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Mail-in ballot drop box at an early voting polling location for the 2020 Presidential election in Miami, FloridaGetty Images

According to the legal complaint, the percentage of mail-in votes cast by Black and Latino voters in 2020 nearly doubled since the 2016 election. SB 90 would require voters to provide a Florida driver's license number, state identification number, or the last four digits of a Social Security number when requesting a mail-in ballot. Advocates argue the new measures would burden low-income Black and Latino voters, who are less likely to have such documentation than white voters.

On the contrary, Florida Republicans say the law was necessary to make elections more secure. Gov. De Santis called Senate Bill 90 the "strongest election integrity measures in the country,." during a closed-door event streamed on Fox News. 

"SB 90 has absolutely nothing to do with election integrity and everything to do with handing out red meat to the base of the previous administration that falsely and dangerously claims there was voter fraud," said Di Lauro. 

There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. 

You can read the full complaint here.

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