Business as Usual for the State-Sponsored Parties! Or so says the End....
Fla. Voter Registration Law Blocked
Aug 28, 6:31 PM (ET)
By CURT ANDERSON
MIAMI (AP) - A federal judge on Monday struck down a Florida law that imposes hefty fines on third parties that take too long to submit voter registration forms, saying it threatens free speech rights and unfairly exempts political parties.
The law took effect Jan. 1 and has been blamed by critics for blocking voter registration drives because of huge financial risk.
The law imposes a fine of $250 for each form submitted to election officials more than 10 days after it is collected from an individual. Penalties can reach $5,000 for each form that is collected but never submitted.
"If third-party voter registration organizations permanently cease their voter registration efforts, Florida citizens will be stripped of an important means and choice of registering to vote and of associating with one another," U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz wrote.
The law also "unconstitutionally discriminates" against third-party registration groups because it does not apply to political parties, Seitz added.
In addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, Florida law recognizes 23 parties including the American Poor People Party, the Green Party of Florida, the Prohibition Party and the Surfers Party of America.
"In effect, the law would have imposed a tax on democracy and a tax on democratic participation," said attorney Craig Siegel.
The law was passed in 2004. Attorneys for the state had argued that the Legislature was within its powers to single out third-party groups because of evidence of past registration problems.
The ruling "will send a signal to officials in Florida and other states that you cannot erect unreasonable barriers to voter registration," said Wendy Weiser, co-counsel for the third-party groups and deputy director of the Democracy Program at the New York University law school's Brennan Center for Justice.
Voter registration drives now can begin ahead of the Nov. 7 general election, several groups said. Plaintiffs included the League of Women Voters of Florida and the Florida AFL-CIO.
The deadline for voter registration applications for this year's general election is Oct. 10. The deadline for next week's primary has already passed.
"At this point, we respectfully disagree with the ruling and plan to take the issue up on appeal," said Sterling Ivey, spokesman for the Florida secretary of state.
(Nod to KH, a friend of liberty)