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Judge Ready to Put Permanent Block on Florida Voting Restrictions

Wednesday, 29 Aug 2012 03:00 PM

Portions of Florida’s election law that a federal judge found “severely restrict” voter registration drives may be permanently blocked.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee, the state capital, said today he would grant a permanent injunction blocking the rules if a federal appeals court approves it.

Hinkle ruled May 31 that conditions the state imposes on groups signing up voters are unconstitutional. The League of Women Voters of Florida and Rock the Vote sued to overturn the laws. Hinkle said the plaintiffs and defendants both requested a permanent injunction “resolving all issues among all parties.”

State officials voluntarily dismissed their appeal of Hinkle’s May ruling, according to an Aug. 10 filing in a federal appeals court in Atlanta. Hinkle, who was appointed to the bench by Democratic President Bill Clinton, said in today’s order that he will grant a permanent injunction if the appeals court directs him to do so or if the appeal of his ruling is dismissed.

“This order is a decisive victory for Florida voters,” said Lee Rowland, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, one of the attorneys who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The Florida Legislature has tried repeatedly to stifle access to voter registration opportunities, and once again a federal court has stopped them in their tracks.”

John Lucas, a spokesman for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, didn’t immediately respond to a phone message left at his office seeking comment about the ruling.

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