Secretary of State Kurt Browning has asked a federal court to approve Florida’s new election law, sidestepping the U.S. Justice Department on the most controversial portions of the voting overhaul approved by the GOP-dominated legislature in May.
Critics of the new law say it is designed to make registering to vote and casting ballots more difficult for minorities and low-income voters, who tend to vote Democratic. The ACLU and other groups are challenging the law in federal court in Miami. Jesse Jackson held rallies in Florida this week protesting the law.
On Friday, Browning withdrew four portions of the law – including those being challenged in federal court – from the application the state filed in June with the Department of Justice.
Five counties – Collier, Hardy, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe – require clearance before changes to election laws can go into effect because of a history of voter discrimination.
In a release, Browning hinted that the state wouldn’t get a fair evaluation from the administration of President Obama, a Democrat.
“The purpose of filing in the federal district court is to ensure that the changes to Florida’s election law are judged on their merits, by eliminating the risk of a ruling impacted by outside influence,” Browning said in the release. “Since the passage we have seen misinformation surrounding the bill increase. By asking a court to rule on certain aspects of the bill, we are assured of a neutral evaluation based on the facts.”