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Federal judge issues preliminary injunction against Florida voter registration law

[JURIST] US District Court Judge Stephan Mickle of the Northern District of Florida [official website] granted a preliminary injunction [PDF text] Tuesday blocking the implementation of a new Florida voting law intended to prevent election fraud in the state. The law would prevent a person from registering to vote if their social security or driver's license numbers cannot be matched to government databases. Three civil rights groups filed a lawsuit [amended complaint, text] in September against the state seeking the injunction, asserting that 14,000 voters were unable to register because of the law. The plaintiffs argued in Florida NAACP v. Browning [Brennan Center backgrounder] that the risk of error from typos in the databases and the use of multiple or nontraditional last names by minority citizens prevents many of them from registering under the new law. Proponents say that the law complies with federal standards. Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning [official profile] said he would appeal the injunction, which was issued six weeks before the Florida presidential primary.

Last year, a federal judge struck down a similar law [Brennan Center press release] in Washington state. Under that law, nearly 16 percent of the state's citizens were unable to vote pending a review of discrepancies in their identification matches to government databases. The lawsuit [complaint, PDF] was brought by several civil rights groups. Federal law requires each state to maintain a database of registered voters, but it does not require "No Match, No Vote" laws like those passed by Florida and Washington. AP has more.

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