Dawn Quarles, a high school teacher, is facing a $1,000 fine for doing something Florida has been cracking down on lately: registering students to vote. The state’s leaders want to stop registration drives that add more qualified voters to the rolls – and they are having a disturbing level of success.
Florida’s crackdown on voter registration is part of a larger national campaign against voting, which includes tough new voter ID laws in many states, rollbacks on early voting and other anti-democratic measures. Supporters of these laws argue that they are concerned with deterring fraud. But the real driving force is keeping down the number of voters – especially young, old, poor, and minority voters.
Quarles is a government teacher at Pace High School in the Florida Panhandle. Along with teaching her students about democracy, she has tried to get them to participate, by helping them register to vote. This should be a good thing. Our nation’s founders insisted that government should operate with the consent of the governed. Ideally, everyone who is eligible should be registered and vote.
In recent years, civic-minded organizations and political groups of various kinds have been conducting mass voter registration drives across Florida – and they have been signing up a lot of voters who lean Democratic. The state’s Republican elected officials have responded with a series of laws that make voting and voter registration much harder.
The rule that Quarles is accused of violating says that people who register others to vote must submit the filled-out forms within 48 hours, down from a previous requirement of 10 days. There is a $50 fine per late form, up to a maximum of $1,000. Even if a teacher puts the forms in the mail right away, depending on mail service, he or she could miss the deadline. The 48-hour rule serves no practical purpose except creating the fear that among people and groups who register voters that they will be late – and face large fines.
Full Article: When Voter Registration is a Crime | TIME Ideas | TIME.com.