Federal Courts Versus Republican Efforts to Limit Voting: Florida
A Republican-supported 48-hour rule impacting voter registration drives has been thrown out in Florida by a federal judge.
U.S. District Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle agreed with several advocacy groups that challenged HB 1355, ruling the new law was unconstitutional.
Under the 2011 legislation, which Republican lawmakers adopted with the help of GOP Governor Rick Scott, third-party groups registering new voters had to submit all voter forms within 48 hours or risk being fined up to $1,000.
Hinkle wrote that the law discouraged voter registration drives and consequently made it harder for new voters to register. The judge, appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, said this result was an unacceptable intrusion on a “core First Amendment activity.”
Hinkle’s ruling also ratified an agreement reached between the plaintiffs and the state that will give voter registration groups up to 10 days to return voter forms, which was the law before HB 1355.
Democrats say damage has already been done as a result of the 48-hour provision. Over the past year, Democratic Party registration increased by only 11,365—compared to an average of 209,425 each year from 2004 to 2008.
While Democrats struggled to register new voters, the number of registered Republicans went up by 128,039 from 2011 to 2012.
To Learn More:
Changes To Florida Voting Rules Still Mired In Controversy (by Greg Hamilton, Gainesville Sun)
Part Of Florida Voting Law Thrown Out (by Steve Bousquet, Tampa Bay Times/Herald)
Democratic Registration All But Dries Up Since New Florida Laws (by Matt Dixon, Florida Times-Union)
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