Florida’s voter registration numbers for both Republicans and Democrats stagnated over the course of about a year, and political experts say it’s mainly because of a law passed last year that put limits on third party voter registration. But, now that some of those restrictions have eased, there’s a mad dash around the state to ramp up voter registration drives before the October 9th deadline. “House Bill 1355 certainly had a dampening effect on voter registration in the state of Florida, when it went into effect July 1, 2011.” While he admits there are more registered voters today than there were for the last presidential election, University of Florida Political Scientist Daniel Smith says voter registration in Florida hasn’t been the same ever since a new election law passed last year.
“There was an increase in anticipation of the 2008 presidential primary election in January. That same enthusiasm was there in 2011, but we didn’t see the parallel increase in voter registration,” said Smith. “Voter Registration daily rates remained around 1,200 a day on average, whereas in 2007, when you look at November and then into December, it was well over 2,000 registering a day on average.”
Republicans pushed for the election law claiming it would cut down on voter fraud. But, Political Scientist Smith says groups, like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, were forced to halt their voter registration drives because of restrictions in the new election law. Jessica Lowe-Minor with the League of Women Voters of Florida agrees the League saw a slump in their voter registration drive efforts, but they’re now ready to get back in the game, after a federal judge ruled in their favor and tossed out that particular provision.