Federal judge blocks voter registration limits
Senator: “This law clearly was designed to stop people from voting, and I’m glad to see the judge’s ruling.”
May 31, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in Tallahassee has put the brakes on a key part of Florida’s new election law that U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and many others have been fighting hard against since Gov. Rick Scott signed it nearly a year ago.
Florida news outlets are reporting today that U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle has struck down a provision of the Florida law that imposed “harsh” restrictions on third-party groups that register new voters. The judge’s order said that a 48-hour deadline for such groups to turn in new voter registration forms is "harsh and impractical," according to The Palm Beach Post, Tampa Bay Times and other media.
One of the chief critics of the elections law has been and remains Nelson (D-FL). He asked Gov. Scott last year not to sign the bill after the Legislature passed it in May. He asked the U.S. Justice Department for an investigation into whether the law was deliberately intended to curb voting among young voters, seniors and minorities. He also brought the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights to Tampa to hold an investigative hearing on the law. The hearing was in January. And most recently Nelson joined critics of the law who are in a court case in Washington, D.C., seeking to strike other key parts of the statute, including a provision that shortens early voting days in Florida. Nelson has filed an Amicus, or friend of the court, brief in support of groups that want the law blocked.
“This law clearly was designed to stop people from voting, and I’m glad to see the judge’s ruling,” Nelson said this afternoon.
The question before Hinkle did not include changes to early voting and other controversial parts of the law that still are at issue in the Washington, D.C. court case that Nelson has sought to join.
Florida’s voting law, enacted about a year ago, reduced the number of early-voting days, including canceling the Sunday right before the Tuesday election. Florida’s law also makes voting harder for people who have recently moved to another county and have an address change, like college students.
It would have subjected voter-registration groups to penalties and fines for mistakes. It’s was so burdensome that the League of Women Voters was forced to abandon its registration drives in Florida after 72 years.