A surprising development in the preclearance saga of HB1355, the State has filed a First Amended Complaint seeking to have the court declare the preclearance obligation in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. To recap my past posts on this topic: under the Federal Voting Rights Act, the State of Florida has to “preclear” changes to election laws. Preclearance can be done throught the U.S. Department of Justice or by filing suit in D.C. The State initially sought U.S. DOJ approval, but then withdrew several of the proposed election law changes and filed suit in D.C.
The State now alleges that preclearance itself is “not a rational, congruent, or proportional means of enforcing the Fourteeth and/or Fifteenth Amendments” to the U.S. Constitution. The Secretary of State has published a press release contesting the 1972 process that placed Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough, and Monroe counties under the preclearance requirement, claiming it does not reflect current conditions. The Secretary does not appear to address the fact that there is a process in the Voting Rights Act that would allow a county to end the preclearance obligation. That process is certainly not an easy one, as it also requires a local government to file suit in D.C.