Florida Vote Suppression Law Blocked

A federal judge issued an injunction Thursday blocking the enforcement of a Florida law that imposes draconian restrictions on voter registration.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature had passed legislation in 2011 making it difficult for groups to register new voters. The law, passed on the pretext of preventing voter fraud, required groups registering voters to turn in voter registration cards within 48 hours of completion, or face fines. The law made it almost impossible for groups like the League of Women Voters to verify and turn in ballots in such a short period of time, and even led to threatened fines against a Florida teacher who registered her students to vote.

Ruling in the case of League of Women Voters of Florida vs. Browning, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle blocked enforcement of the law, citing the potential for irrevocable harm to the rights of voter registrants:

Under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, an election-code provision of this kind must serve a legitimate purpose that is sufficient to warrant the burden it imposes on the right to vote. And under the National Voting Rights Act, an organization has a federal right to conduct a voter-registration drive, collect voter-registration applications, and mail in the applications to a state voter-registration office.


The assertion that the challenged provisions implicate no constitutional rights is plainly wrong. The plaintiffs wish to speak, encouraging others to register to vote, and some of the challenged provisions—for example, the requirement to disclose in advance the identity of an employee or volunteer who will do nothing more than speak—regulate pure speech. This is core First Amendment activity. Further, the plaintiffs wish to speak and act collectively with others, implicating the First Amendment right of association. More importantly, the plaintiffs wish to assist others with the process of registering and thus, in due course, voting. Voting is a right protected by several constitutional provisions; state election codes thus are subject to constitutional scrutiny. Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one’s rights in a federal court.

In his ruling, Hinkle state that the restrictions the state had proposed were “virtually unintelligible,” and said that the plaintiffs in the case would suffer harm if the law was not blocked, “first because the denial of a right of this magnitude under circumstances like these almost always inflicts irreparable harm, and second because when a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever.”

Dierdre McNab, president of the Florida League of Women Voters, a plaintiff in the case, issued a statement praising the ruling.

“For over 72 years, League volunteers have faithfully and successfully helped to register eligible Florida voters. We are hopeful that this ruling will enable us to continue this important work,” she said. “Florida’s anti-voter law creates impassable roadblocks for our volunteers, who are simply trying to bring fellow citizens into our democratic process.”

Republican Fla. Gov. Rick Scott tried to put the best spin on the ruling.

“I am pleased that central parts of the voter registration law have been upheld by a federal judge,” he said in a statement. “Our democracy relies on ensuring only valid, legal votes are counted, and that starts with having a voter registration process that safeguards the ballots of Florida citizens.”

Related Stories

Florida Voter Registration Way Down Thanks To Restrictions

Florida Voter Restrictions Might Be Intentionally Discriminatory

Voting Rights Crisis Unfolding In Florida

Photo Credit: Brian Turner


Charles P.
Charles P5 years ago

Steve R., why dn't you buy a newspaper and stop watching faux news. There has been so little voter fraud, by misrepresentation or any other means, that it is obvious exactly what the intent of these laws are. However, there has been huge voter suppression, 7.000 purged from the rolls only a couple of months prior to the 2000 election in Florida by the FL. Sec. of State, who was also the Republican Chair. How does that happen? The statement by the head of a voting machine company that he would ensure Bush's election in 2004, and lo and behold, there were numerous voting problems in Ohio. Voter fraud happens on a large scale, it is certainly not done on a one to one basis. It would be too cumbersome and too many people would have to beinvolved inorder to make a difference. So, grow a f-g brain.

Frances C.
Frances C5 years ago

All my adult life I have encouraged everyone to vote, no matter who they vote for. Voting is a right and a privilege. People who try to stop any Citizen, minorities, old people, young people, you know Democrats, from voting are UN American, unpatriotic, and is illegal

Robert H.
Robert Hamm5 years ago

This is a disgusting thing to say about a political group that has been here since our government started. But why would anyone expect different from a malcontent such as you.
The parties used to work together. They compromised. Thats why there are two sides to the government,So decisions aren't always one sided

What century are you talking about…...Unions and violence Good GRIEF steven,

SExy Photos??? does yer Mommy know??? Really?? this is the most intelligent thing you could come up with??

You have absolutely NO credibility.

America must vote Democrat or Communist"??? There's no difference between the two dearie.

Frances C.
Frances C5 years ago

Luvenia, Thanks for the informative post. I have read all the facts on Acorn, and you are exactly right. Unfortunately it wasn't followed up with on the news except the Fox liar channel, and they kept up the lie so it is what many people still believe.

Phillip F.
Phillip Ferrell5 years ago

I already said it on one blog and I'll say it again on this one. If anyone wants to know what the repugnants are up to, just listen to what they are accusing the democrats of.

Carl Oerke
Carl O5 years ago

This is another attempt by the Republicans to steal the Presidential election. It worked in 2000 with George W Bush's brother as governor with the help of Katherine Harris. Now Governor Rick Scott is trying it once again. The attempt to remove 180,000 voters from the registration rolls in hope that Willard Mitt Romney will squeak by and steal the election once more. They problem is people wised up after the first election was stolen in Florida and calling the Republicans on the issue and resisting this time around.

Luvenia V.
Luvenia V5 years ago

Steve R., you mean the ACORN that has been cleared of fraud? You mean the ACORN that the Republicans tried to frame?


ACORN Cleared of Voter Fraud Charges in Connecticut
Fri, 02/04/2011 - 2:01pm — Miranda
As the Right revs up its efforts to discredit and defund Planned Parenthood, it’s important to remember its last attempt to bring down a national organization through sheer force of repeated falsehoods.
ACORN, which at its height was the largest anti-poverty organization in the country and registered hundreds of thousands of new voters, became a political pariah in the 2008 elections after right-wing organizations and politicians hyped up charges that individual ACORN employees had made up names on voter registration forms and a video by now-renowned prankster James O’Keefe purported to show ACORN employees cooperating with criminals. The problem was, of course, that these allegations were either over-hyped or just plain false. O’Keefe’s video was found to be heavily edited and misleading. The handful of ACORN employees who filled voter registration forms with false names did so to cheat ACORN out of their paychecks, and never had any plan to commit voter fraud. The Government Accountability Office found that ACORN had not misused federal money. But by then, the organization had lost its federal funding and disbanded.
Now, ACORN has been cleared of another one of th

Redgie H.
Redgie H5 years ago

Steve R,
Your opinions have been noted.
Your intimidation tactics have been noted.
Your complete lack of original thought has been noted.
Your complete disregard of factual information has been noted.
Your Exalted Cyclops has been notified.
ps Target is having a sale on linens this week.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown5 years ago

Steve R.-Look troll you want to keep the sexist remarks to yourself. How dare you say to Jennifer S. "Do try not to make stupid statements - there's a good girl." Besides your statement being completely misogynistic and insulting, Jennifer adds to this site with her intelligent and insightful comments which is more than I can say for the right wing garbage you spew. I realize you are just a troll but keep a civil tongue in your head.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago