Quin Hillyer: Judge demolishes claims that voting safeguards are racist

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Credit William Pryor, chief judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for systematically destroying claims that key election laws supported by many Republicans across the country are discriminatory or constitutionally impermissible.

Pryor’s April 27 decision in League of Women Voters v. Florida Secretary of State overturned a district court ruling that Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation rightly described as “truly bizarre.” District Judge Mark Walker had ruled that Florida state legislators shouldn’t be permitted to implement modest rules governing ballot “drop boxes,” to require that new voter registrations be delivered to election officials in a timely manner and to prevent electioneering within 150 feet of polling locations.

Walker somehow determined that the secret intent and effect of these provisions would be to unduly deter black Floridians from voting — in supposed violation, variously, of the First, 14th and 15th amendments, along with a provision of the Voting Rights Act.

For years, Democratic politicians and activists have squawked that just about any effort to safeguard the integrity of voting is essentially a racist plot. Similar restrictions passed in Georgia in 2021, for example, were portrayed by the liberal media and politicians as a step toward apartheid, while Major League Baseball moved its All-Star Game from the state in protest. Yet with great regularity, including in Georgia, the states that implement voter integrity provisions actually see increased voter participation across all ethnic groups.

Pryor’s 78-page decision finding “both legal errors and clearly erroneous findings of fact” in Walker’s ruling was one of the most brutally methodical takedowns of a lower court imaginable. Heritage’s von Spakovsky ably handled the legal analysis, but what should interest a general audience is just how hard the Left must strain, and just how flimsy their arguments are, in order to try to prove racial discrimination that just isn’t there.

Pryor, a Tulane law graduate and George W. Bush appointee, noted that even after the amended provisions at issue, Florida’s laws make it massively easier to vote early or by mail than it had been just 25 years earlier. He showed that Walker used the existence of outrageous discrimination a full century ago to infer, with astonishing leaps of illogic and against considerable evidence to the contrary, that Florida’s legislature in 2021 had racist motives. He showed that Walker repeatedly and stubbornly refused to credit the legislators’ perfectly cogent explanations of why they thought each of the challenged rules was necessary to safeguard elections. And Pryor tore apart Walker’s statistical analysis about the supposedly “disparate” racial effects of the new rules.

For example, Walker strangely inferred that even the slightest restrictions on voting by mail would disproportionately dissuade Black Floridians from voting. How can that be, Pryor asked, if, by Walker’s own statistics, 45% of White voters now use mail ballots compared to just 40% of Black voters? Those White racists must be pretty dumb if they want to limit a form of voting used more often by White people than by Black people!

Similarly, Walker saw racism in any limits on the use of drop boxes. Yet among Floridians who voted by mail, 29.6% of Black people used drop boxes while 28.3% of White people did. In a sample from a single election, Pryor dryly noted, “a difference of only 1.3 percentage points is not substantial.”

Most illogical was the challenge to the law requiring big voter registration organizations to make timely delivery of new registrations. Walker somehow determined the provision was a plot to keep people from voting. Reality is just the opposite: The goal is to ensure that would-be new voters don’t have their registrations lost in the shuffle. Before the new provision, for example, “Supervisor Oakes of St. Johns County received twelve late applications for voters who, as a result, were not able to vote in the March 2020 election.” It was to ensure that such citizens could vote, not to disenfranchise them, that the vote harvest organizations are now required to be efficient.

Indeed, the state supervisor of elections specifically had asked for the new provision that Walker said should be outlawed.

In sum, Pryor wrote that “the record does not come close to meeting” the standard needed to decide that most of these provisions are racially discriminatory. He is indubitably correct.

New Orleans native Quin Hillyer is a senior commentary writer and editor for the Washington Examiner, working from the Gulf Coast. This column originally appeared in the Examiner. He can be reached at Qhillyer@WashingtonExaminer.com. His other columns appear at www.washingtonexaminer.com/author/quin-hillyer.


About Mary Weyand 11874 Articles
Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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