DeSantis Triumphs, Delivers Knockout Blow to NAACP in Federal Court

In a win for election integrity, a federal judge in Florida dismissed a lawsuit filed by activist groups such as the NAACP and, who claimed that the state’s voter registration process was too strict. The lawsuit specifically targeted Florida’s signature requirement, arguing that it violated federal civil rights law by using “immaterial errors or omissions” to deny people the right to vote.

Judge Allen Winsor of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida ruled in favor of Florida, stating that not all signatures are equal. He emphasized that the plaintiffs’ argument that non-original signatures were equivalent to wet signatures was unfounded. Winsor pointed out that the submission of an original, wet signature carries more weight and solemnity than submitting a copied, faxed, or electronically-transmitted signature.

While electronic signatures are becoming more widely accepted in certain circumstances, the judge made it clear that the wet signature requirement was still necessary given its significance in voter registration. Winsor noted that the plaintiffs had failed to demonstrate that the wet-signature requirement was immaterial, and emphasized that the federal law cited in the lawsuit did not support alternative signature methods.

Florida Secretary of State Cody Byrd also voiced support for the state’s position, arguing that the choice to require original signatures was valid. Byrd explained that physically signing a voter registration form is a meaningful act that signifies an individual’s assent and affirmation, which cannot be replicated by electronic signatures. He emphasized that Florida’s signature requirement was in line with the intent of the Materiality Provision, which aims to eliminate unjust requirements that deny eligible voters the right to vote.

The dismissal of the lawsuit is a significant victory for Florida and its efforts to maintain the integrity of its voter registration process. It reaffirms the importance of original signatures and the state’s discretion in choosing the method by which material information must be provided. Elections are a cornerstone of democracy, and protecting their integrity is critical for ensuring that every eligible citizen has the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

Written by Staff Reports

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