NEW ANTI-VOTER LAW CREATES BARRIERS TO VOTING FOR FLORIDA COMMUNITIES
Caren Short, senior supervising attorney for Voting Rights with the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Michelle Kanter Cohen, policy director and senior counsel with Fair Elections Center, released the following statements on Florida’s SB 524, which was signed into law yesterday by Governor Ron DeSantis:
“The decision in our case makes clear that the state must seek federal approval before implementing any law or policy that impacts third-party voter registration organizations, drop boxes, or helping people in voting lines because of Florida’s history of racial discrimination in voting.” said Caren Short, senior supervising attorney for Voting Rights with SPLC. “This law clearly falls under this requirement, and we call on the state to seek federal preclearance, or better yet, cease its latest attempt to create barriers to voting.”
“Florida’s leaders should be making voting more accessible,” said Michelle Kanter Cohen, policy director and senior counsel with Fair Elections Center. “Instead, they are doubling down on voter intimidation and other barriers to voting and voter registration that make it harder for Floridians to make their voices heard.”
What SB 524 Means for Florida Voters
- Creates a new special police task force for enforcing barriers to voting
- Imposes new fines and restrictions on Third Party Voter Registration Organizations, burdening the organizations and making it more difficult to register to vote.
- Places more barriers to drop box voting and voting by mail.
- Creates greater risk of more wrongful voter purges
The SPLC and Fair Elections Center represented Harriett Tubman Freedom Fighters (HTFF) in HTFF v. Lee, its challenge to Florida’s previous anti-voter law, S.B. 90. On March 31, a federal judge ruled in favor of HTFF that S.B. 90 violates the free speech rights of third-party voter registration organizations and is racially discriminatory and placed the state of Florida under pre-clearance for future attempts to create barriers to voting, including restrictions on voter registration organizations. HTFF v. Lee was consolidated with League of Women Voters of Florida, Inc. et al. v. Lee et al.; Florida State Conference of Branches and Youth Units of NAACP et al. v. Lee et al.; and Florida Rising Together et al. v. Lee et al.
The court’s ruling is available HERE.
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The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.
Fair Elections Center is a national nonpartisan and non-profit voting rights and election reform organization based in Washington, DC whose mission is to use litigation, public education, and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, and to improve election administration. More info at www.fairelectionscenter.org.