Voting rights campaigners fear it will be more difficult for people of color in the state to register to vote and take part in the upcoming elections as a result of the recent implementation of a number of new limits on organizations in the state of Florida that are in charge of voter registration.
These clauses are part of a comprehensive election law that is presently seeking Governor Ron DeSantis’ approval. The 96-page document contains the headline-grabbing clause that would permit DeSantis to continue both as governor and to pursue the Republican presidential nomination. But Senate Bill 7050, which was approved by the legislature last week under Republican control, also made other changes to state law. These changes might have a long-term impact on how voter registration organizations operate.
The bill is set to put more onus on individual Floridians to prove their right to vote after 20 convicted felons were apprehended in Florida last year for allegedly voting illegally in the 2020 election. This follows the detention of 20 offenders in Florida last year. A number of the defendants have asserted that they thought the voter identity cards that state officials had sent them acted as evidence that they had regained their ability to vote.
With the proposed change, they will now have disclaimer language stating that cards are “not legal verification of eligibility to vote.” However, a number of crucial provisions give full attention to independent voter registration organizations. One of these entails reducing the 14-day deadline for these groups to turn in any registration forms they gather to just 10 days. Any application that was submitted after the deadline would be subject to daily penalty under this provision. A change from the current norm that requires groups to register just once is that the groups must also register with the state throughout each general election cycle. Additionally, they must provide a receipt to each voter they register.
The law forbids non-citizens and anyone convicted of specific offences from gathering or managing voter registration forms. If a non-citizen has a regular legal presence in the US, it is also prohibited for them to collect or handle voter registration forms. An organization faces a fine of up to $50,000 if it is discovered that it gathered applications from an ineligible employee. Each group that violates the law may be subject to a maximum fine of $250 000 for each new calendar year.
Abdelilah Shkir, a strategist for voting rights policy at the ACLU of Florida, claims that the highest monetary fine that voter registration organizations can receive for violations has increased significantly in Florida, from $1,000 per year just two years ago. The state’s stricter enforcement of its voter registration laws is what caused this increase. He said, “That’s going to scare off a lot of people.” “I’m not lying,” she said.
The changes, according to Danny Burgess, the Republican chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, who guided the legislation through the chamber, are required to prevent fraud and attempts at identity theft by those who gather voters’ personal information during the registration process. Burgess was in charge of guiding the legislation through that chamber. He claimed, during the discussion on the Senate floor, that during the 2022 election cycle, three distinct groups in two different counties had been discovered gathering voter data.