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Judge rules that restrictions on after-hour drop boxes don't keep Floridians from voting

Judge rules that restrictions on after-hour drop boxes don't keep Floridians from voting


Judge rules that restrictions on after-hour drop boxes don't keep Floridians from voting

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Restrictions on after-hour drop boxes may make it inconvenient to return ballots outside business hours, but they don't keep Floridians from voting, a federal judge has ruled.

Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker previously had ruled that restrictions in Florida's 2021 election law would have suppressed Black voters, but parts of that decision were overturned by an appellate court and sent back to the Tallahassee judge to reconsider. Walker made his latest ruling last Thursday.

Often sounding conflicted about how to respond to the appellate court decision, Walker said in his latest ruling that the voting rights groups that had challenged Florida's election law failed to show that the restrictions on drop boxes unduly burdened voters. The judge also said that restrictions in the law on third-party voter registration groups also failed to be proven unduly burdensome.

Florida's election law tightened rules on mailed ballots, drop boxes and other popular election methods. In his original ruling in 2022, Walker claimed the changes made it more difficult for black voters who, overall, have more socioeconomic disadvantages than white voters.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals said last April that Walker’s ruling was flawed and that evidence did not show that lawmakers deliberately targeted black voters.