In a 119 page order, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (the court hearing the State’s preclearance request for HB1355 after the State withdrew part of its request to the USDOJ for preclearance) issued an order last night. The order focuses on two of the HB1355 provisions: “(1) amend the available days and hours that Florida counties may use for early in-person voting, …and (2) amend the voting procedures for registered voters who move between Florida counties and seek to vote in their new county of residence (“inter-county movers”),”
I’m still going through their analysis, but here is the court’s conclusion:
“To summarize, we have reached the following conclusions:
First, we conclude that we cannot preclear Florida’s early voting changes at this time because the State has failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority voters if the covered counties offer only the minimum number of early voting hours required under the new statute, which would constitute only half the hours required under the prior law. We also conclude, however, that if Florida and the covered counties were to submit a preclearance plan that offered early voting for the maximum number of hours authorized by the new statute, which would be exactly the same number as under the prior law, and did so on a standard 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule, Florida likely would satisfy its burden of proving that the overall effect of its changes in law would be nonretrogressive. Accordingly, we will deny Florida’s request for a declaratory judgment granting preclearance of the early voting changes and dismiss Count Three of the Third Amended Complaint, without prejudice.
Second, we conclude that Florida has satisfied its burden of proving that the changes to the procedures for inter-county movers neither were enacted with a discriminatory purpose nor will have retrogressive effects on minority voters. We will therefore enter a declaratory judgment on Count Two of Florida’s Third Amended Complaint preclearing those changes.
A separate order implementing these decisions will be issued this day.”