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Florida Rising Together, et al v. Byrd, et al. (N.D. Fla)

SB 90


In May of 2021, Florida passed SB 90 into law. The bill restricts access to the ballot by limiting access to drop boxes.  The legislation also restricts the ability of civic engagement groups to assist with the collection and return of absentee ballots.

The Case

Florida Rising Together, Hispanic Federation, Faith in Florida, Equal Ground, UnidosUS, and Poder Latinx, represented by Advancement Project, Demos, LatinoJustice, and Arnold & Porter, filed suit asserting violations of the Voting Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

We challenged SB 90’s provisions that:

  • reduced availability and access to ballot drop boxes
  • the requirement that third-party voter registration organizations provide a disclaimer to inform registrants their completed registrations might not arrive in time
  • added restrictions to the vote-by-mail application process
  • created “line warming” restrictions criminalizing handing out food, water, chairs, translation, and other types of assistance to voters waiting in line to vote.

What happened

After a lengthy trial, which included two weeks’ worth of testimony from 42 witnesses, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a decision in 2022 determining that the plaintiffs had proved that several of the provisions within SB 90 were meant to discriminate against Black voters and disparately impacted Black voters. This violated both the federal Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

The district court’s 2022 order prohibited Florida officials from enforcing all of those provisions.  On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit reversed several aspects of the district court’s order.

What we won

While much of SB 90 remains in effect, the plaintiffs achieved two important victories in this case:

  1. The third party voter registration disclaimer that was struck down by the district court in its 2022 order was subsequently repealed by the Florida Legislature.

This disclaimer made it harder for third party voter registration organizations to help people register to vote. This is especially important when you consider that 10% of Black and Latine voters were registered by third party voter registration organizations, compared to only 2% of white voters.

  1. The provision of SB 90 which does not allow line warming (specifically “engaging in any activity with the … effect of influencing a voter” inside a polling place or within 150 feet of a drop box or entrance to any polling place) has been struck down. This provision violated the First Amendment.

This means that line warming activities are allowed so long as the person engaging in the line warming activities does not “influence” a voter by requesting or seeking to obtain something from a voter.

Advancement Project and our Florida partner organizations continue to fight to protect the votes of Black, Brown, poor, disabled, and other Floridians.