News Service of Florida:
On the eve of a trial slated to begin Monday, lawyers representing the state and plaintiffs in a legal battle over Florida’s vote-by-mail procedures have reached a settlement.
Priorities USA, Dream Defenders and other plaintiffs have been seeking to expand the state’s vote-by-mail process, arguing that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a record number of Floridians casting ballots from home to reduce chances of being infected with the highly contagious coronavirus.
Among other things, the plaintiffs asked to extend a deadline for mail-in ballots to be returned. They also wanted free postage for the ballots and challenged a provision in Florida law restricting paid workers from collecting mail-in ballots.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle had set aside two weeks for a trial scheduled to start Monday.
But on Sunday, plaintiffs and Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration notified the court that they had reached a settlement.
The agreement would require Secretary of State Laurel Lee to “educate” and “encourage” county supervisors of elections about a variety of vote-by-mail procedures that were at the heart of the lawsuit.