Breaking: DOJ Opposes Florida Laws On Voter Registration Groups, Early Voting

The Justice Department objected late Friday to new provisions of Florida election law which place strict regulations on third-party voter registration groups and cut down on the early voting period. DOJ alleged in a court filing that Florida was unable to prove the new provisions were not discriminatory under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

“As to the third-party voter registration and early voting changes enacted… respectively, the United States’ position is that the State has not met its burden, on behalf of its covered counties, that the two sets of proposed voting changes are entitled to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,” according to a court filing.

Florida had begun the preclearance process with DOJ but subsequently sued the government after federal lawyers asked for additional information about how some provisions of the state’s new election law would be enforced.

Non-partisan groups like the League of Women Voters have ended their voter registration efforts in the state because of the law, which forces individuals conducting voter registration drives to get permission from the state and turn in voter registration cards within 48 hours of a voter filling them out. The League of Women Voters, the Brennan Center, and Rock The Vote are also fighting that provision of the law in court and an initial hearing was held earlier this week.

Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, said this week that the law would “prevent organizations like Rock the Vote from educating and engaging young people in our political process and go against the very principles our country was founded on.” Attorney General Eric Holder singled out Florida’s law during a major speech on voting rights in December.

The Colbert Report featured a sketch this week about a Florida teacher who is already facing a stiff penalty from the state for not turning in voter registration cards she collected from her students within 48 hours. Check it out below:

Florida, Justice Department, Voter suppression, Voting, Voting Rights Act, voting
Ryan J. Reilly

Ryan J. Reilly is a D.C.-based reporter for TPM. Prior to joining TPM, he worked for a news website covering the Justice Department and was a researcher for Bloomberg News. His email address is ryan(at)talkingpointsmemo.com.