State Watch

ACLU sues Florida over law targeting ballot initiatives

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida has sued the state over a newly-enacted law targeting ballot initiatives.

The lawsuit in a Tallahassee federal court argues that the law, Senate Bill 1890, “unconstitutionally abridges First Amendment freedoms of speech and associations by limiting contributions to committees sponsoring statewide ballot initiatives.”  

The suit comes one day after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed Senate Bill 1890 into law.

The bill limits contributions to political committees that sponsor or oppose ballot initiatives at $3,000, according to its text. The limitation would no longer apply when the Florida secretary of state certifies that enough people have signed on to the measure being sponsored.

The Associated Press noted that the measure could have made it impossible for voters to be able to pass ballot initiatives such as medical marijuana and a minimum wage increase.

In its lawsuit, the ACLU of Florida points out that an initiative petition needs to be signed by a number of voters equal to 8 percent of votes casts in the last presidential election, or 891,589 people.

The advocacy group said in its lawsuit that it has plans to propose and support more initiatives in the future. It played a big role in passing Amendment 4, a 2018 ballot initiative that ended the lifetime ban on voting for previously convicted felons.

“If SB 1890 stands, the ACLU of Florida will not be able to propose and support future initiatives, because such initiatives will not be viable under SB 1890’s contribution limit,” the group wrote.

The ACLU further wrote that the contribution limit “unduly burdens free speech and association” and “unduly burdens Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to associate with others.”

The Hill has reached out to DeSantis and Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee (R) for comment.

The suit comes days after the state was hit with two lawsuits from voting rights groups over Senate Bill 90, which advocates say illegally restricts ballot access. The law was passed despite objections from civil rights groups and all of the state’s county-level election supervisors.

The measure restricts the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, adds requirements on voters seeking alternatives to in-person voting and bans members from distributing food or water to those waiting in line.

Tags American Civil Liberties Union Ballot initiatives Florida Laurel Lee Ron DeSantis Ron DeSantis voting laws

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