TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – 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 last night 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 dropbox voting and voting by mail.
- Creates greater risk of more wrongful voter purges
As noted in the state's court filing yesterday in League of Women Voters et al. v. Lee et al., the consolidated cases challenging 2021's SB 90, portions of SB 524 (2022) are not currently being enforced pending preclearance and further court action as ordered by the trial court in its March 31, 2022 order. Specifically, Sections 5, 7, 16, 20, 22, and 23 of SB 524 are not currently being enforced pending further court action. These sections relate to drop boxes and third party voter registration organizations.
The SPLC and Fair Elections Center represented Harriett Tubman Freedom Fighters (HTFF) in HTFF Vs. Lee, their 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 violated the free speech rights of third party voter registration organizations and placed the state of Florida under pre-clearance from federal court for future attempts to create barriers to voting, including restrictions on voter registration organizations. HTFF Vs. 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.