BREAKING: US District Court Grants Injunction Against Florida Voter Restrictions
Posted on May 31, 2012 by Eric Wingerter, NAACP Vice President for Communications & New Media
Today the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued an injunction against a string of voter restrictions in the state that the NAACP has argued were efforts to suppress the vote.
The Court blocked enforcement of the following parts of the new law:
- The requirement that groups submit all completed voter registration applications to the state within 48 hours of collection;
- The requirement that individuals who do not physically collect voter registration forms pre-register with the state before engaging in any voter registration activity;
- The requirement that organizations give the state notice within 10 days when any volunteer or employee stops volunteering for the organization;
- The requirement that individuals who engage in voter registration sign a form threatening them with criminal penalties before they may register voters; and
- The requirement that organizations send a monthly report to the state listing the number of voter registration applications the organization distributed and received.
The following parts of the new law remain in effect:
- The requirement that those who run voter registration drives pre-register with the state before engaging in voter registration activity;
- The requirement that voter registration organizations ensure that submitted voter registration forms are stamped with an identification number for the organization that collected them;
- The requirement that organizations provide information to the state in electronic format;
- The ability of the Secretary of State to refer violations of the law to the Attorney General for enforcement; and
- The discretion of the Secretary of State to refuse to waive penalties for not complying with the law even when unexpected events make it impossible for organizations to comply with the law.
The 48-hour restriction was brought to national attention in March when an incident involving the Okaloosa County Branch of the NAACP was profiled by the New York Times. Branch President Sabu L. Williams received a letter from the Florida Secretary of State warning that signatures collected on the Sunday of the Martin Luther King holiday were “untimely under the law” because they had been turned in 49 hours after they were gathered—even though elections offices had been closed that Monday in observance of the holiday. The letter further warned the NAACP that “any future violation of the third-party voter registration law may result in my referral of the matter to the attorney general for an enforcement action.”