Florida League Of Women Voters Drops Registration Plan Over Restrictive Laws

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Democrats are calling attention to the effect that voter ID laws which have swept through state legislatures this year could have on voter turnout. But voter ID laws aren’t the only restrictive measures imposed on the right to vote which civil rights organizations say are going to hurt voter turnout.

Take Florida. Voters there are already asked to show a photo ID when they vote. Now thanks to a law passed by Florida lawmakers, they’re less likely to be registered in the first place.The bill, HB 1355, shortened the length of the sunshine state’s early voting period and stopped voters from being able to change their address at the polls.

But the law’s restrictions on third-party voter registration groups could do the most damage, and have already forced one of the oldest voter education groups out of the voter registration game altogether. Such groups would face stiff fines unless they turned in voter registration cards within 48 hours of them being filled out.

The League of Women Voters announced they were dropping their voter registration program just after the law was rushed through by Republicans in the legislature in May.

Deirdre MacNabb, president of the Florida League of Women Voters, told TPM in a phone interview this week that they just couldn’t operate under the restrictions.

“When we looked at the laws, we felt that this would put our thousands of volunteers across the state who have registered voters for 70 years in Florida at a grave disadvantage,” MacNabb said.

Volunteers would have to have “a secretary on one hand and a lawyer on the other hand as they registered voters,” MacNabb said.

“We did not feel that we as an organization could ask our volunteers to undergo that kind of vague, restrictive and punitive restriction which the legislature has tried to impose,” MacNabb said.

MacNabb said her organization is reviewing its legal options and considering taking action against the law. She was reluctant to say what the motivation was behind the laws, saying she was only focused on what the outcome would be.

“I think the outcome will very clearly be much less opportunity to new eligible voters to have access to third-party registration groups,” MacNabb said. “We think it will make it likely we will see far more use of provisional ballots, and it will be much less convenient, especially for working citizens, to get to the polls for early voting.”

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