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Judge Blocks Enforcement of Key Parts of Florida's Restrictive Voting Law

Judge Blocks Enforcement of Key Parts of Florida's Restrictive Voting Law

This just in from the Brennan Center for Justice:

A federal judge blocked enforcement of key provisions of a restrictive voting law in Florida today, a breakthrough victory for Florida voters and voting rights advocates nationwide.

The law, H.B. 1355, included onerous restrictions on community-based voter registration drives, forcing the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups to shut down their drives. In his decision, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle found that the Constitution and federal law prohibit most of Florida’s recently passed restrictions and highlighted the law’s impact on the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights.

"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.…[W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever,” U.S. Judge Robert L. Hinkle wrote in his opinion blocking most of the Florida law.

In 2011, a wave of suppressive laws passed that could make it significantly harder for millions of eligible Americans to cast ballots this fall, according to the Brennan Center’s comprehensive study, "Voting Law Changes in 2012."

The Florida decision marks the first time a federal court has blocked one of these restrictive voting laws and comes after the Department of Justice, in a separate lawsuit, opposed Florida’s law restricting voter registration and early voting. The Justice Department also rejected restrictive voter ID laws in South Carolina and Texas. A judge ruled that Wisconsin’s voter ID law violated the state Constitution.

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