June 1, 2012; Source: Ms. Magazine
As NPQ previously noted, the Florida Division of Elections has decided to implement a series of new policies that put new limits on voter registration efforts and shortens the period for early voting. Now, however, Federal District Judge Robert Hinkle has issued an injunction on the state’s requirement that groups conducting voter registration drives must turn in all new registrations within 48 hours after collecting them. The rule had reportedly caused some nonprofit, nonpartisan groups, such as the Boy Scouts and the League of Women Voters, to say that they would give up conducting voter registration altogether.
In his ruling, Hinkle wrote that the new law “imposes burdensome record-keeping and reporting requirements that serve little if any purpose, thus rendering them unconstitutional,” also noting that “when a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever. And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives—thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote—promotes democracy.”
Because NPQ believes in promoting an active and engaged democracy, we are pleased to see that this new policy was stopped in its tracks, but the question remains as to why the Florida Division of Elections would get behind a policy that would seem to make it more difficult to register voters in the first place, a move that, it seems to us, is anathema to any state election department’s reason for being. –Mike Keefe-Feldman