In May 2021, the Florida legislature passed a major overhaul of state election law. The law’s goals were to make elections more transparent and trustworthy while outlawing known abuses of the system, particularly those abuses that came into being based on the whim of unelected officials and judges to allegedly allow the system to cope with an election during a pandemic.
These are bullet points that describe what the Florida law does.
- Under SB-90, voters can still request to vote-by-mail instead of voting in person. However, some changes are being made to the request process.
- Voters can submit a vote-by-mail application. It outlawed the mass mailing of ballots. All requests for ballots have to be accompanied by a Florida driver’s license number, ID number, or the last four digits of the applicant’s social security number.
- Drop boxes outside the permanent elections office must be located to give all voters an equal opportunity to use them. Drop boxes may only be used for early voting. They must be monitored by staff from the election supervisor’s office. Dropbox locations must be announced 30-days before an election, and they cannot be changed after that date. All boxes must be emptied by the end of voting hours each day.
- Convicted felons will have to check a box declaring their voting rights have been restored on the voter registration form.
- The state must create and maintain a secure website for online voter registration. In addition, there are risk management requirements that accompany this provision.
- All electronic devices and networks used for voting must be screened for vulnerabilities and protected from cyberattacks.
- Voter turnout data must be made available to the public in real-time.
- Florida DMV must cooperate with the Florida Secretary of State’s office in tracking voter address changes.
- Third-party voter registration organizations must register with the state whether or not they personally distribute or collect voter registration applications.
- Applications collected by third-party organizations must deliver the applications to the appropriate county within 14 days. The groups must inform voters that they are a third-party organization, and they can’t guarantee that the applications will be delivered on time. If an application is not delivered on time, the organization must inform the voter how to register online, and the organization gets fined $50 per late application.
- The minimum distance for electioneering is increased from 100 feet to 150 feet.
- Anyone who wants to assist a voter in the polling place has to submit a “Declaration to Provide Assistance” in advance and must swear they are not engaged in electioneering and that they are neither the employer of the voter nor an agent of that employer.
- Contrary to many statements, you can provide water, etc., to voters in line; you just can’t talk to them about voting.
- Poll watchers will have a badge issued by the elections supervisor.
- All ballots, forms, and materials from the election must be retained for 22 months.
- All “duplicate” ballots created to replace damaged vote-by-mail ballots must be made in an open room with witnesses. Overvotes or undervotes that can’t be “corrected,” that is, cases where the voter seems to have intended to undervote or overvote, can’t be studied for “voter’s intent.” The accuracy of “duplicate” ballots can be challenged by observers resulting in the ballot being voted on by the canvassing board.
- Candidates must be registered members of the party whose nomination they seek for a year before the election.
- Candidates registering as independents must not have been a party member for the past year.
- Voter certification on envelopes must be open to public inspection.
- Parties, candidates, and political action committees are entitled to see all voter certificates and envelopes before they are counted.
- Comparing voter signatures must be open to access and review.
- It is illegal for election boards to accept any private donation of money, goods, or services to support an election.
- Written notice of any settlements, consent decrees, or orders that would modify state election law must be submitted to state authorities ten days before it is scheduled to go into effect.
- Officials have positive duty to defend the state election law.
All in all, it is a valiant effort that regularizes processes across the state, prevents ballot harvesting, opens up closed backrooms to observers, and demolishes the whole “sue and settle” industry used by the left to get rid of laws that rein in fraud.
Naturally, it must be opposed.
The League of Women Voters (just another of the plagues inflicted upon our wounded nation by the 19th Amendment) sued the Florida Secretary of State. The case went before Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of the Northern District of Florida. Walker is an Obama judge.
If you recall, back in November 2018, Chief Justice John Roberts got a case of the vapors when President Trump referred to a judge who struck down an asylum policy of his administration as an “Obama judge.”
“We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges. What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them. That independent judiciary is somethng we should be thankful for.”
Trump’s MeanTweet™ was much more reality-based than Roberts’ whining.
Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country. It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary’
Judge Walker performed as promised.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, in a blistering 288-page decision, said the law placed restrictions on voters that were unconstitutional and discriminated against minority citizens. Those included limits on drop boxes used for mail-in voting, on giving items to voters waiting in line and new requirements placed on voter registration groups.
“At some point, when the Florida Legislature passes law after law disproportionately burdening Black voters, this court can no longer accept that the effect is incidental,” Walker wrote. “Based on the indisputable pattern set out above, this court finds that, in the past 20 years, Florida has repeatedly sought to make voting tougher for Black voters because of their propensity to favor Democratic candidates. In summation, Florida has a horrendous history of racial discrimination in voting.”
The judge’s decision placed a permanent injunction on several parts of the new law, such as restrictions on when drop boxes could be used by local election officials. As part of the order, the judge also put in a preclearance requirement if legislators want to change laws regarding voter registration organizations, drop boxes or so called “line warming” activities with voters waiting to cast ballots at the polls.
By “preclearance requirement,” this loony judge declared that if the legislature of Florida wanted to change parts of election law for the next ten years, they had to beg the leave of their black-robed master to do so.
What Walker did was use the Florida law as a vehicle for attacking Supreme Court jurisprudence. He makes it clear that he thinks the Supreme Court has betrayed the constitution by giving legislatures the right to make laws.
Even if fleeting, Judge Walker’s decision represents one of the most aggressive legal broadsides against Republicans in the heated voting rights battles that have followed President Donald J. Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. The ruling also comes as Democrats and their allies pursue an uphill legal strategy, relying on federal voting protections diminished by the Supreme Court.
In his decision, Judge Walker castigated previous Supreme Court rulings on voting issues and essentially dared the justices to overturn his decision.
“Without explaining itself, the court has allowed its wholly judge-made prudential rule to trump some of our most precious constitutional rights,” the judge wrote.
Governor Ron DeSantis declared the state would appeal the ruling to the Eleventh Circuit. However, as the ruling is simply Judge Walker venting his spleen over his own diminished importance in deciding the fate of elections, it is a virtual certainty that the ruling will be overturned.
We had all better get ready for this kind of childish acting out on the part of Biden and Obama judges as we get closer to the primary season and midterms. Many states have changed their laws to prevent the kind of blatant fraud that characterized our last federal election. The Democrats and their enforcers in the judiciary don’t like it, and they aren’t going to go away without a fight.