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A federal appeals court has halted a judge’s order that demanded preclearance before Florida enacts new laws on absentee ballot drop boxes, third-party voter registration groups, or precinct “line warming.”
The lower court’s ruling relying on an analysis of racism in Florida’s history is “problematic,” and “failed to properly account for what might be called the presumption of legislative good faith,” according to the order issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Additionally, the state has “a substantial argument” that another provision in the law governing “line warming” activities outside polling places “passes constitutional muster,” though the lower court found it to be “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad,” according to the order.
The court also noted the next statewide election is in August, while local elections are ongoing—too close for interfering with state laws administering elections, the judges wrote.
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The order was signed by Judges Kevin C. Newsom, Barbara Lagoa, and Andrew L. Brasher. Lagoa is a former Florida Supreme Court justice who was appointed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in 2019. DeSantis was the driver behind the election law that’s being challenged as discriminatory.
The state had sought the stay pending its appeal of the March 31 ruling by Chief Judge Mark Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
Walker had written that the right to vote and the federal Voting Rights Act, are “under siege” in Florida. His ruling threw out parts of the law passed in the wake of the 2020 election.
DeSantis had called Walker’s ruling “performative partisanship.”
The case is League of Women Voters of Fla. Inc v. Fla. Sec’y of State, 11th Cir., No. 22-11143, 5/6/22.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Kay in Miami at email@example.com