Recent changes to Florida law require third party voter registration organizations to register with their local supervisor of elections office. Those that don’t follow the law can be held liable to fines and criminal penalties.
While the new law seeks to minimize voter fraud, a U.S. Department of Justice investigation is under way to determine if the rules violate the Voting Rights Act.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami-Dade, comments on the purpose of the bill:
“This bill streamlines the registration process and tightens regulations surrounding third-party groups to ensure voter fraud is kept to a minimum,” said Diaz de la Portilla. “It helps ensure that voters properly register and head to the polls at the right time. This is an issue that needs to be addressed, and this bill will uphold the significance of the polling process.”
Several groups, including the ACLU of Florida and the League of Women Voters, have expressed concerns over the voter registration changes. The concerns are predominantly based upon the Voting Rights Act. The 1965 Voting Rights Act helped to minimize disenfranchising black voters and was designed to outlaw discriminatory voting practices.
The new law requires organizations registering voters to register as a “third party voter registration organization” with the local Supervisor of Elections. A third party voter registration organization is “any person, entity, or organization that solicits or collects any voter registration application” except for a person seeking to register their immediate family or an employee of the supervisor of elections or an official voter registration agency.
Fines ranging from $50 to $1,000 are possible for violations of the new law.
According to the Pasco Supervisor of Elections, a third party voter registration organization can be fined $50 per registration if it turns in applications more than 10 days from the date the organization received the completed form. The fine rises to $250 if the organization willfully acted. Aggregate fines may not exceed $1,000 per year for a third party voter registration organization.