Lawyers for Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and national Republican groups on Thursday filed a notice that they will appeal a federal judge’s ruling that parts of a sweeping elections law were intended to discriminate against Black Floridians.
Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s March 31 decision came in a lawsuit challenging a 2021 law imposing new restrictions on mail-in voting and third-party voter registration organizations.
The legislation (SB 90) included provisions restricting election supervisors’ use of drop boxes; requiring voters to request mail-in ballots more frequently; and forcing third-party groups to provide a disclaimer informing potential voters that their applications may not be turned in within a 14-day window imposed by the law.
The League of Women Voters of Florida and a number of Black and Hispanic advocacy groups filed lawsuits challenging the measure, alleging that it was an effort to restrict minority voters from accessing the ballot.
Walker held a two-week trial early this year. The chief judge’s 288-page ruling found that “every single challenged provision has a disparate impact on Black voters in some way.” DeSantis and Republican legislative leaders quickly slammed the judge’s decision and vowed to appeal the ruling to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Thursday’s notice did not provide details of the appeal, as is typical in such instances. Speaking to reporters following Walker’s ruling, the governor said the judge’s decision was not unexpected and predicted it would be overturned by the Atlanta-based appeals court.
“It was not unforeseen because we typically set our clocks to getting a partisan outcome in that court,” DeSantis said on April 1. “I would not want to be on the receiving end of that appeal if I were a judge, because I think that that’s going to be reversed on appeal. The only question is how quickly it gets reversed on appeal. But it’s not going to be able to withstand appellate scrutiny.”