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New election law now facing four separate legal challenges

Panama City WJHG-TV logo Panama City WJHG-TV 6/15/2021 Jake Stofan
a group of people standing in a room: A fourth lawsuit has been filed challenging the state’s new election law, but the Governor remains confident the law will hold constitutional muster. © Provided by Panama City WJHG-TV A fourth lawsuit has been filed challenging the state’s new election law, but the Governor remains confident the law will hold constitutional muster.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - A fourth lawsuit has been filed challenging the state’s new election law, but the governor remains confident the law will hold constitutional muster.

Under the new law, third-party voter registration organizations must inform Floridians there’s a chance their registration form won’t be returned within the legal deadlines.

The organizations will also have to inform them they can register online.

“It kind of degrades their efforts,” said Emma Bellamy with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing the voter registration groups suing the state.

Bellamy argued the new requirements violate the organizations’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

“We believe that that is government compelled speech because the government is telling them to deliver a specific message that may or may not be true. They’re going to try to return these forms on time,” said Bellamy.

With legal challenges mounting, Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried argued defending the law is a poor use of taxpayer dollars.

“How much money are taxpayers going to have to pay to protect laws that were passed for the sole purposes of partisan politicking and not serving the people of our state?” said Fried.

The other lawsuits allege new vote by mail identification requirements, restrictions on who can possess another person’s ballot, and limiting mail ballot drop boxes will disenfranchise minority, elderly and disabled voters.

But Governor Ron DeSantis told us he believes the law will ultimately stand.

“Look, district courts who knows, but very confident that if it did have to go to appeal that we would win those in the 11th Circuit fairly easily,” said DeSantis.

The governor highlighted the prohibition on private dollars funding election administration and restrictions on ballot harvesting as important election security features within the law.

The governor also noted the restrictions on third-party voter registration organizations were not one of the main provisions of the law he supported.

In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center told us they hope the governor will tell the Secretary of State not to enforce that part of the law.

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