Florida is experiencing the effect of a draconian GOP-sponsored law that imposes severe penalties on organizations that fail to meet strict voter registration guidelines. The outcome is record low new voter registration.
The state’s new elections law — which requires groups that register voters to turn in completed forms within 48 hours or risk fines, among other things — has led the state’s League of Women Voters to halt its efforts this year. Rock the Vote, a national organization that encourages young people to vote, began an effort last week to register high school students around the nation — but not in Florida, over fears that teachers could face fines. And on college campuses, the once-ubiquitous folding tables piled high with voter registration forms are now a rarer sight.
Several Florida counties are reporting that
new registrations dropped sharply in some areas where the voting-age population has been growing, the analysis found, including Miami-Dade County, where they fell by 39 percent, and Orange County, where they fell by a little more than a fifth. Some local elections officials said that the lack of registration drives by outside groups has been a factor in the decline.
Similar laws in other states have had similar effects.
The law in Florida, which is among the strictest in the nation, is similar to one New Mexico passed in 2005, which also imposes penalties for failing to meet a 48-hour deadline for handing in forms. Civic groups challenged the New Mexico law in court and lost. Since the law passed, census data shows, the percentage of New Mexicans who are registered has fallen.
The GOP has become the party that fears the voters. Overwhelmed by the emerging demographics, the only way Republicans can maintain any semblance of a majority is to disenfranchise the young, college students, the elderly, African-Americans and hispanics. They’re accomplishing this through so-called voter ID laws and voter registration restrictions. It’s pathetic.