Priorities USA Issues Legal Challenge to Restrictions on Voting By Mail and Absentee Ballot in Florida

May 04, 2020

The suit addresses rising concerns regarding voting amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, May 4, Priorities USA announced a joint legal challenge with the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, Alianza for Progress, Inc., and several individuals to four provisions that limit access to voting by mail or absentee ballot in Florida. The complaint argues that due to the current health crisis, both voters and elections officials will face fundamental challenges in the way elections are administered locally. These challenges include an unprecedented demand for mail-in ballots as well as reduced numbers of poll workers and elections staff.

Considering these challenges, the complaint argues that making absentee and mail-in voting accessible is critically important. However, current Florida laws notably restrict the use of absentee and mail-in voting, creating significant obstacles that infringe Florida citizens’ right to have a meaningful opportunity to vote. As a result of these and other concerns, the suit seeks the following:

  • A declaration that Florida’s Election Day Receipt Deadline, Voter Assistance Ban, and Vote-By-Mail Postage Requirement violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution;
  • A declaration that the Election Day Receipt Deadline violates the Due Process Clause;
  • A declaration that the Vote-By-Mail Postage Requirement violates the Fourteenth and Twenty-Fourth Amendments as an unconstitutional poll tax;
  • A declaration that the Voter Assistance Ban violates the First Amendment by imposing unreasonable restrictions on speech and the right of association.

“No Floridian should ever be forced to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA. “Our country faces a once in a lifetime health crisis, local and state leaders need to make sure that every Florida voter has full, equal, and safe access to the ballot box in November.”

“The right to vote is sacred. Older Floridians take this civic responsibility very seriously,” said Bill Sauers, President of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and a registered voter who lives in Wellington. “During this pandemic, the state of Florida needs to take additional steps to ensure that older Floridians can vote safely.”

“Alianza is committed to improving life for the millions of people in Florida’s Puerto Rican and Latinx communities, and the lawsuit we joined in filing today is part of our commitment to safeguarding the precious right to vote against policies in Florida that disenfranchise and suppress the political voice of our Puerto Rican and Latinx communities,” said Marcos Vilar, the Executive Director of Alianza for Progress, Inc. “We will continue to stand up for equality and justice, and this lawsuit is another step toward those goals.”