Trial Challenging Florida’s SB 90 Voter Suppression Law Begins Today
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A trial challenging SB 90 (League of Women Voters v Lee), a Florida measure to make it harder and in many ways impossible for Black and Brown people to vote, kicked off on Monday, Jan. 31. This is one of the first trials of the year challenging anti-voting laws at the state level. It comes just as national voting rights efforts have stalled, with the Senate recently failing to change rules on the filibuster to pass voting rights.
SB 90 was passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis in spring 2021 as part of a sweeping trend of over 400 new anti-voting laws across 49 states introduced in the last year, silencing the rising majority of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Indigenous voters. The law was challenged by a number of groups, including Advancement Project National Office, Demos, Florida Rising, Equal Ground Education Fund, LatinoJustice, Hispanic Federation, and others.
Organizations issued these quotes ahead of the trial:
“Florida has joined a growing list of states passing restrictive voting legislation. SB 90 is arguably one of the most suppressive of them all. The eyes of the nation are fixated on how this plays out as a test of what is to come. The impact of this trial has deep implications not only in Florida but for the state of voting rights everywhere,” said Sabrina Khan, Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney, Power and Democracy, Advancement Project National Office.
“Using precise restrictions to strike at the ways voters of color cast their ballots is not about strengthening democracy; it’s about restricting it to a few voters. Elected officials should not choose their constituents, and they do not have the authority to deprive people of color of their right to vote. We will fight SB 90 and ensure all voters regardless of race, income, or neighborhood get access to the ballot,” said Andrea Cristina Mercado, Executive Director of Florida Rising.
“The threat to voting rights may be different than what it was in the 40s and 50s, but struggles remain. This has come fully into focus over the past year with the failure to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the Freedom to Vote Act…Given the multiple states that have introduced voter suppression laws to restrict voting in 2021 alone, the need to protect this franchise has been crystallized with the passage of SB 90, which is why we are suing election officials,” said Jasmine Burney Clark, Founder, Equal Ground Education Fund.
“Instead of working to solve a myriad of issues that affect the daily lives of Floridians, Gov. DeSantis and some members of the Legislature are focusing their energy on a bill that would make it harder for people to vote. Their intentions are clear; SB 90 has no other purpose than to make it more difficult for people to exercise their right to vote. We will continue to oppose any measure that reduces or threatens the right to vote of any Florida resident,” said Frederick Velez III Burgos, National Director of Civic Engagement, Hispanic Federation.
“In this case, we will be putting on evidence to prove what everybody already knows: the laws that were enacted in SB 90 in 2021 are carefully crafted to hit Black and Brown voters the hardest… It should be unconscionable for such a law to be passed,” said Brenda Wright, Senior Advisor for Legal Strategies, Demos.
“In a little over a year, we have seen our democracy take hit after hit. Rather than move toward greater access, participation, and representation, our governor and Legislature attempted to chip away at the most fundamental of democratic institutions, the vote. Without hesitation, we will continue to fight this pattern of attack, weaken, and disenfranchise in Florida. The trend stops here,” said Esteban Garces, Co-Executive Director of Poder Latinx.
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