Judge dismisses ACLU challenge to implementation of new elections rules
A Miami judge today threw out a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union challenging the state’s plans to implement its controversial elections overhaul in 62 counties while a handful of other counties await preclearance from the federal government. The* Sun Sentinel* reports:
The ACLU argued that the state couldn’t implement the law in some of the counties while waiting to see if the law passed federal muster in the five counties subject to the Voting Rights Act. A U.S. District judge in Miami disagreed.
“I am pleased that the United States district court judge agreed with our position that Florida’s election laws are being appropriately implemented throughout the state,” said Secretary of State Kurt Browning in a press release. “The 62 counties in Florida with no preclearance requirement do not need to wait for the approval of the federal government before implementing Florida law.”
Five Florida counties are waiting for preclearance from the federal government before they can implement the new law, as required by the the Voting Rights Act. The law was created in 1965 to outlaw discriminatory voting rules. Section 5 of the act requires the federal government to review and approve any changes to election laws in certain areas.
Browning last week filed a complaint against the law, arguing that preclearance requirements for state election laws are “unconstitutional.”
Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, said the state’s challenge to the Voting Right’s Act was “an admission that they know that the federal courts are likely to find that the Voter Suppression Act passed this year is a serious threat to the voting rights of Florida’s language and racial minorities.”
The state is waiting to hear from a federal judge about four of the law’s most controversial measures: new restrictions on third-party voter registration drives, a shortened “shelf life” for signatures collected for ballot initiatives, new restrictions on voters changing their registered addresses on election day and a reduction in the number of early voting days.