On Friday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay in League of Women Voters of Florida v. Lee. The initial lawsuit was brought by the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWV), Black Voters Matters Fund, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and individual voters challenging Florida’s Senate Bill 90 (2021).
The plaintiffs are represented by King, Blackwell, Zehnder & Wermuth, P.A. and Elias Law Group LLP.
With the stay, the appellate court has ordered that the changes to the law made by the trial court’s ruling will not go into effect until a further ruling from the appellate court. The appeal of the case will move forward and parties will make arguments before the appellate court.
Senate Bill 90’s drop box restrictions, mail-in ballot repeat request requirement, volunteer assistance ban, deceptive registration warning and food and water ban all violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments according to the plaintiffs. The trial court agreed with this view of the law when it issued a 288-page ruling in favor of the League and other plaintiffs.
In the trial court’s ruling, multiple provisions of the law were stuck down. Provisions struck down include the law’s drop box restrictions, the line-warming ban and implementation of a warning requirement for third party voter registration organizations like the League of Women Voters. The ruling also placed the Florida legislature’s ability to impact voting rights changes under preclearance for the next 10 years. This means that, if this ruling stands after this case is heard by the appellate court, the legislature must obtain approval from the court before passing any new laws related to drop boxes, line-warming and voter registration organization activities. The LWV believes that the appellate court will be persuaded by the evidence of voter suppression presented by the various plaintiffs upon appellate review.
“The district court heard the testimony of elections officials and legislators who admitted that they did in fact inquire how different communities voted. The court found that legislators passed voting laws that specifically targeted ways that African Americans vote to make voting more difficult for them. The court reviewed several laws passed by the state legislature over the last twenty years and found that these actions were intentional discrimination and should be stopped.” said Cecile Scoon, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “While the League of Women Voters of Florida and our partners in this case are disappointed that a stay has been granted, our fight is not over. It is more crucial than ever that we continue our charge to protect voting rights and ensure everyone, regardless of race, party, age or disabilities is represented in our democracy.”