Lawsuit seeks to change Florida’s mail-in ballot requirements amid coronavirus outbreak

Lawsuit seeks to change Florida’s mail-in ballot requirements amid coronavirus outbreak

A worker delivers mail-in ballots for processing at the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office in Orlando, Fla. on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, for the Florida primary.(Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS) TALLAHASSEE — Pointing to expected voting problems this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, left-leaning groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging parts of Florida’s rules for vote-by-mail ballots. Priorities USA, Alianza for Progress, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and individual plaintiffs filed the lawsuit Monday, almost exactly six months before the Nov. 3 general election. The lawsuit challenges state laws and procedures that include requiring elections supervisors to receive vote-by-mail ballots by 7 p.m. on election night for the ballots to count. “While the Election Day receipt deadline is constitutionally problematic in its own right, under the current circumstances — where a global pandemic will lead to a significant increase in mail voting while at the same time severely burdening an already compromised USPS (United States Postal Service) and thinly stretched local elections staff — it cannot survive judicial scrutiny,” said the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Tallahassee. Florida, which is again expected to be a key state in November’s presidential election, has faced numerous lawsuits over the years about its election procedures and laws. As Monday’s lawsuit was filed, for example, a federal judge heard testimony about the constitutionality of a 2019 state law dealing with restoring the voting rights of felons who have done their time behind bars. Coronavirus But with 1,399 Florida residents dying as of Monday from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the pandemic could add another layer of issues to the legal fights. While Florida went ahead with its March 17 presidential primary election, other states have postponed elections amid concerns about the spread of the virus at polling […]

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