DOJ says Florida targeted and restricted black voters in 2021
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According Department of Justice records Florida Republicans intentionally targeted black voters on Wednesday when they enacted new voting restrictions last year.
By The Guardianthe DoJ told a federal appeals court that a lower court properly assessed the racial discrimination claims with respect to Florida’s new law.
In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker blocked new restrictions on the availability of mail-in ballot boxes, regulations for third-party voter registration groups, and a ban on providing food and water to voters. people queuing to vote. The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit suspended that decision earlier this year while it considers an appeal from Florida officials.
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More recently, the Justice Department’s polling division filed challenges to election laws in Georgia, Texas and Arizona, in addition to filing multiple briefs in other election disputes.
An argument in support of a race discrimination finding offers a significant legal boost to challengers to the case, though challenging the law faces an uphill battle in the deeply conservative 11th Circuit.
The Justice Department said it agreed with the court’s findings that Florida lawmakers enacted the provisions knowing they would hurt black voters after the 2020 election in which voter turnout increased. The Florida law, the department said, violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in voting practices.
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“The key factual findings of the District Court are that, in the face of high turnout in the 2020 election, the Florida Legislature responded by passing provisions that impose disparate charges on Black voters,” DoJ attorneys said. written in their memory. “Who were chosen precisely because of these charges to ensure a partisan advantage. The court’s findings of discriminatory intent are an admissible view of the record based on the totality of the evidence.
Florida lawyers dispute that the law is racially discriminatory.
Democratic AGs across the country have weighed in on Florida
According Orlando WeeklyDemocratic attorneys general from 16 states and the District of Columbia on Tuesday urged a federal appeals court to overturn restrictions Republicans in Florida imposed last year on the ballot box.
The attorneys general filed a friend of the court brief arguing that the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals should uphold a March ruling by Judge Walker that the restrictions are unconstitutional and should be blocked.
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The brief challenged Republicans’ arguments that restrictions on drop boxes, where people can drop off mail-in ballots, are necessary to help prevent fraud.
State of Florida continues to challenge Judge Walker and the opposition
Lawyers for Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, Attorney General Ashley Moody and county election supervisors said in a brief filed last month in the appeals court that Walker “got it wrong” and that the law was a “neutral common sense election law”. .”
“The record shows that the Florida Legislature is trying to balance integrity with access to improve voter confidence, provide clear rules, and resolve issues before they affect elections in Florida,” the report said. memory.
But Democratic attorneys general on Tuesday pushed back against state justifications for the drop box restrictions.
“As the experiences (of reporting states) demonstrate, it is possible to prevent fraud and promote trust without restricting the right to vote,” the brief states. “Plus, there’s not really a fraud or trust issue to deal with. Even if there were, the specific provisions of SB 90 restricting the use of drop boxes would not help. Instead, these targeted provisions were intended, as the district court found, to disenfranchise a specific group of voters.
Florida’s black leaders strategize to fight voter suppression
Equal ground in Florida is a black-led, non-partisan effort to build black voting and black voter power in the state, through Click Orlando. It is a coalition of suffrage advocates, religious leaders and program directors for historically black colleges and universities.
Programs such as Vote for the Black Lives campaign also exist as a statewide effort to achieve results in registering and educating more black voters.