A Challenge to the Elections Bill

By: Whitney Ray Email
By: Whitney Ray Email

Tallahassee, FL -- May 18, 2011 --

Last year, Carley Sattler helped register hundreds of voters at Florida State University.

Carley Sattler says, "A lot of students weren't even aware that there were elections."

Carley is the Chapter Chair of FSU PIRG, and regularly participates in voter registration drives, but she may stop signing up voters because of changes in Florida's elections laws.

She says, "I wouldn't be shocked at all if a lot of organizations stopped doing registration. The fees were scary enough the past semesters, now fees and deadlines are even more restrictive."

The changes shorten the time voter registration groups have to turn in forms from 10 days to two. For each form turned in late, a 50 dollar fine would be levied.

It would also force volunteers to registrar with the state before signing up voters. Those changes have volunteer groups like the League of Women Voters crying foul.

Jessica Lowe-Minor from the League of Women Voters says, "That could be an undue burden for people who really do this as a labor of love, something they are committed to and see as their civic duty."

Other changes include shortening early voting from two weeks to one and require voters who change their address 30 days before Election Day to cast provisional ballots.

The controversy surrounding the changes has already reached Washington… A delegation of Democratic Congressmen sent a letter to the Justice Department asking for a review. The Justice Department responded with this letter promising to "Carefully Consider" the changes to see if they violate the Voter Rights Act.

Supporters of the changes say it's all about fraud prevention, but there has only been 31 reports of voter fraud in Florida since 2008 and in only four of those cases, arrest warrants were issued.

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