Florida Republicans push through a new law that places onerous restrictions on voter registration organizations, and voters. Now, the League of Women Voters says it’s getting out of the voter registration business in the state.
From the in-box:
Tallahassee, FL — Today, the League of Women Voters of Florida announced that it will cease voter registration in the state of Florida upon implementation of HB 1355. For more information, please see the below statement from League president Deirdre Macnab:
It is with great regret that the League of Women Voters of Florida announces that we must cease our voter registration efforts in this state should HB 1355, the elections bill recently passed by the Florida legislature, become law.
Despite the fact that the League of Women Voters is one of the nation’s most respected civic organizations, with a 91-year history of registering and educating voters, we will be unable to comply with the egregious provisions contained in HB 1355.
Not only does the bill make it more difficult for voters to participate in our democracy via a decrease in early voting and new policies regarding address changes at the polls, it also imposes an undue burden on groups such as ours that work to register voters.
Under the false pretext of reducing “fraud,” Florida’s legislative leaders have instituted a law that will shut down the efforts of groups such as the League, the Boy Scouts, student groups, civicorganizations and others who undertake the important task of helping citizens get registered to vote.
While the League remains committed to empowering an active and informed citizenry, we cannot and will not place our thousands of volunteers at risk, subjecting them to a process in which one late form could result in their facing financial and civil penalties.
By passing HB 1355, the legislature has declared war on voters. Effective immediately, the League will begin to explore legal remedies. In the meantime, the League urges Governor Rick Scott to stand up for democracy and veto HB 1355.
Conservatives have long attacked the LWV – a nonpartisan organization – as being a liberal group. The group recently got into a written shouting match with Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown over ads Brown said mischaracterized his votes. Getting the group to stop registering voters in Florida would be a victory for Republicans, who have lost the voter registration race with Democrats every year since 2008.
HB 1355, which passed the legislature last week, would force people who need to change their address on election day to vote on provision ballots, which are often not counted; would cut the number of early voting days from 14 to 8, and would place new restrictions and liabilities on groups that register people to vote. Republicans say the changes are needed to stop voter fraud, but presented no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Florida to back up their claims. The law is seen by many as an attempt to suppress the kind of votes that typically go to Democrats.
Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has warned Gov. Rick Scott he will seek Justice Department intervention over potential Voting Rights Act violations if Scott signs the elections bill.