A Federal District Judge blocked a portion of Florida’s voting law yesterday that put restrictions on voter registration. The judge issued an injunction against the part of the law that required those who conduct voter registration drives to turn in forms within 48 hours of collecting them. Opponents argued that the law, signed by Governor Rick Scott (R) last year, unjustly discriminated against minorities and low-income individuals by adding another obstacle to voter registration drives.
Judge Robert Hinkle wrote in his judgment that the law “imposes[s] burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional.” He also wrote that “when a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever. And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives – thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote- promotes democracy.”
Under the law, groups or individuals that failed to turn in the forms within the 48 hour period faced a $1,000-a-day fine. According to the Brennan Center for Justice (PDF), “Voter registration rates in the United States are routinely lower than they are in other democracies around the world: more than a quarter of voting-age Americans are not registered and thus cannot vote.” The Brennan Center also says that “voter registration drives have become an increasingly important registration method in the past decade, especially for low-income citizens, students, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, and people with disabilities.”
Bloomberg 6/1/12; MSNBC 6/1/12; Reuters 5/31/12; CBS News 5/31/12; Brennan Center for Justice Report 2011