Standing inside the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Office early Tuesday morning, Vince Cocks proudly handed over 13 completed voter registration forms. It might not look like much, but Cocks is learning to celebrate the small victories in the wake of stringent new state elections laws.
“I’m honored to register voters,” he said. “I believe this is what the country is about.”
Critics say the laws, which went into effect in May, make it too difficult for third-party organizations — which include groups like the Boy Scouts and the League of Women Voters — to register voters. Supporters say the laws are designed to combat voter fraud and will provide better oversight of the voting process.
… Under the new elections code, organizations must now register all members who help with voter registration efforts with the county elections supervisor and turn in all completed applications within 48 hours. In the past, third-party organizations had 10 days to submit applications. Now, they face hefty fines — $50 per application — if they aren’t returned within two days.
The requirements were enough to stop some organizations from registering voters altogether. That includes the state chapter of the League of Women Voters.
“We felt that the new law created such a vast, cumbersome, unnecessary and vague set of new laws that it would be impossible for us to take on as a volunteer force,” said Deirdre Macnab, the president of Florida’s League of Women Voters.