Florida’s new election law attracted more legal attention Thursday with a lawsuit from a trio of civic groups that contend the new rules are too burdensome on their voter registration efforts. The groups — League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote and Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund — are plaintiffs in a lawsuit that asks a federal court in Tallahassee to block the registration restrictions in the elections overhaul, which is in effect in 62 of 67 counties.
Attorneys argue the law is unconstitutional and violates the “motor voter” law by imposing burdensome regulations on volunteers and steep penalties for mistakes, such as not turning in voter registration applications within 48 hours. The window used to be 10 days.
The League of Women Voters, which has registered voters in Florida since 1972, suspended its efforts in May when Gov. Rick Scott signed the bill, HB 1355, into law. Washington-based Rock the Vote, which seeks to register people ages 18 to 29 across the country, also will suspend registration efforts in Florida in 2012. The group registered nearly 90,000 voters in 2008, it said.
“It’s really huge and really tragic,” said Heather Smith, Rock the Vote president.
The groups also oppose a change that requires volunteers become registration agents within their organizations. Volunteers must sign an oath warning of prison time and fines, said Deirdre Macnab, League of Women Voters of Florida president.