Federal court in DC declines to grant Voting Rights Act preclearance to Early Voting reductions that were part of 2011 ‘Voter Suppression Act’

ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363-2737 or media@aclufl.org

MIAMI–Last night a federal court in Washington, DC issued a decision on preclearance for portions of the 2011 ‘Voter Suppression Act,’ declining to grant preclearance to the law’s reduction in early voting under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Foundation of Florida represented defendant-intervenors including two Supervisors of Elections, state legislators, and other voting and civil rights groups in the case.

The following statement on the court’s decision may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida:

“We are pleased that the court declined to grant preclearance to the Voter Suppression Act of 2011’s cutback in early voting in the counties covered by the Voting Rights Act. This is precisely why the Voting Rights Act exists, to provide a check on states that attempt to interfere with the right of minority voters to participate in our democracy.

“The burden was on the state to prove otherwise and this decision means that they failed to do so in terms of early voting. Can anyone be surprised? We have stated from the beginning that this law was passed to be a roadblock for minority voters and to make it harder for them to exercise their fundamental right to vote.

”This is not the end of the voter suppression saga in Florida. Because the Voter Suppression Act of 2011 was implemented in the state’s other 62 counties without waiting for preclearance, we now have two sets of election laws in effect in Florida.”

“This dual election system is illegal and will lead to confusion and chaos in November. We are arguing as much in a separate ongoing legal challenge. It is our hope that that case is resolved quickly in order to prevent a new ‘Florida 2000’ mess of Governor Scott’s and the legislature’s creation.”

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