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Appeals court reinstates Florida's restrictive voting law

The temporary stay will allow the state to impose limits on drop boxes and third-party voter registration efforts in the midterm elections.
Voters wait in line to cast their early ballots at John F. Kennedy Public Library in Hialeah, Fla., on Oct. 19, 2020. Eva Marie Uzcategui / AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court has ruled that Florida can temporarily reinstate its restrictive voting law ahead of the midterm elections.

The Florida law, known as Senate Bill 90, added new restrictions on drop boxes, third-party voter registration, mail voting, and “line warming” activities like giving voters food and water while they wait in line to cast a ballot.

In March, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Mark Walker barred the state from enforcing parts of the law, declaring that certain provisions intentionally discriminates against Black voters and needlessly infringes on Floridian's voting rights.

He also ordered the state to submit to a process known as “preclearance” for certain election rule changes. Under Section 3(C) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, courts can force jurisdictions to get pre-approval on election laws changes.

The state appealed the ruling and asked the U.S. Circuit Court for a temporary stay on Walker's order. The appeals court granted the request on Friday, saying it is too close to an election for the lower court to make changes to voting rules.

The court also made clear they had issues with Walker’s ruling, particularly his determination that parts of the legislation was intentionally discriminatory against Black voters.

Senate Bill 90 was first challenged last May in federal court by a group of voting rights advocates lead by the League of Women Voters of Florida, who have vowed to continue their fight.