Florida v. United States

Date Filed: 09/06/2011

The State of Florida filed Florida v. United States, a lawsuit that asks a federal court to approve, under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the implementation four proposed voting changes.

Because these proposed changes, if approved by the court, would be harmful to Florida’s minority voters, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF) represents the Florida State Conference of the NAACP and African-American voters as Defendant-Intervenors in this case.  

Five counties in Florida are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  As a consequence, statewide voting changes in Florida cannot be implemented until the federal government has reviewed them and determined that they will not have a discriminatory effect on minority voters. 

In its lawsuit, Florida asks the court to approve voting measures that would drastically alter the voting process in the state in several significant ways.  Most dramatically, under the proposed law, Florida would cut the number of early voting days available in half.  This proposal is particularly problematic because African Americans make up a large percentage of early voters.  During the 2008 election, for example, African Americans comprised nearly 20% of early voters, despite being only approximately 12% of the electorate.  Overall, more than half of African-American voters in Florida voted during the early voting period in 2008. 

The proposed voting law also imposes severe restrictions on organizations that conduct voter registration drives, and places new provisional ballot requirements on voters who move before Election Day.

LDF’s clients urge the court to reject Florida’s proposed discriminatory voting changes, as they would substantially harm their access to and participation in Florida’s electoral process.