DOJ: Florida Voting Restrictions May Discriminate Intentionally

March 20, 2012 10:30 am

New Florida laws that place harsh restrictions on third-party voter registration groups and limit the early voting period may have been passed with a discriminatory intent, lawyers with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division suggested in a court filing on Tuesday.

DOJ told the court that the federal government’s position was that Florida “has not met its burden of proof” in demonstrating that “the proposed voting changes neither have the purpose nor will have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” It singled out the provisions of Florida’s new voting law that place restrictions on third-party voter registration groups, shorten the early voting period and make voters who move to a different county cast provisional ballots.Several counties in Florida are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires states with a history of racial discrimination to have changes to their election laws precleared by the Justice Department or a panel of judges in D.C. The feds objected to provisions of the law in a court filing earlier this month.

Restrictions on third-party voter registration, which forces individuals conducting voter registration drives to get permission from the state and turn in voter registration cards within 48 hours, caused groups like the League of Women Voters to end their voter registration efforts.

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