Here’s the quote from the Secretary of State’s news release: “The purpose of filing in the federal district court is to ensure that the changes to Florida’s election law are judged on their merits by eliminating the risk of a ruling impacted by outside influence,… [s]ince the passage of HB 1355, we have seen misinformation surrounding the bill increase. By asking a court to rule on certain aspects of the bill, we are assured of a neutral evaluation based on the facts.” Swift reaction from the bill’s detractors is being reported in an AP story on the Tampa Tribune site, and in a Sun-Sentinel story. It appears from the Secretary of State’s news release that the USDOJ had issues with the HB1355 provisions related to early voting, 3rd party voter registration, petition signature verification, and address changes at the polls.
Protests and poltical committee litigation
The St. Pete Times is reporting on a protest yesterday in Tampa related to HB1355. Meanwhile, the AP & Miami Herald are reporting on a hearing today related to a libertarian group challenging Florida’s political committee regulatory structure. The plaintiffs’ counsel has a summary of their suit on their website. It appears to be one of many First Amendment/election law cases inspired by recent Supreme Court decisions.
Impact of Supreme Court Arizona PAC case quickly felt in Florida
A 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court in Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC et al. V. Bennett, Secretary of State of Arizona, et al. holding that Arizona’s matching funds law substantially burdened political speech and was not sufficiently justified by a compelling interest to survive First Amendment scrutiny quickly impacted Florida law. As I wrote about back in August, then candidate Rick Scott had challenged the constitutionality of Florida’s matching funds law and a Federal judge had granted a temporary injunction as to provisions that capped Scott’s spending and gave his primary competition matching funds for any spending over that cap. As noted by the Supreme Court, portions of Florida’s law were similar to Arizona’s. The Orlando Sentinel is now reporting that, in light of the Supreme Court decision, the Judge has made his injunction permanent.
Preclearance objections filed & litigation update
Numerous groups have reportedly filed objections with the Dept. of Justice regarding Florida’s request to preclear HB1355. The Bradenton Herald has a report on three public interest groups’ objections. Also online are objections from the ACLU Voting Rights Project and a letter from the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators, and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP. Meanwhile, the Florida Independent has posted documents from the litigation filed by the ACLU against the State.
Updated summary on this year’s Election Law
I’ve updated my summary on HB1355, posted on the carltonfields.com website at: http://bit.ly/j1VJ0o.
Florida files preclearance request on HB 1355
The Florida Secretary of State has filed a preclearance submission pursuant to the Federal Voting Rights Act with the U.S. Department of Justice related to HB 1355 – you can read the cover letter, submission summary, and exhibit outlining the State’s summary of the new law here.
Litigation begins over new Florida election law
The ACLU of Florida has filed suit in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida challenging implementation of HB1355 before preclearance is obtained. At the same time, the Brennan Center has asked the Secretary of State to hold off on implementing HB1355 for the same reason, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The Secretary of State’s Directive regarding the new law is also now online.
“Bifurcated voting system”
First newspaper editorial, courtesy of the St. Pete Times, that I’ve seen that mentions the “bifurcated voting system” that is apparently in place in Florida today.
Judge’s order in Miami-Dade case
I’m a bit behind in posting this – here is the order in the Miami-Dade early voting dispute, courtesy of the Miami Herald. The court held the issue of cancelling early voting on the Sunday before election day was moot due to the signing of HB1355.
HB1355 Preclearance story
Headline in the St. Pete Times today: “Elections supervisors in key counties refuse to implement new law” – same article in the Miami Herald has the headline: “Without DOJ sign-off, elections chief balk at voting law.”
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