Federal Judge rejects one part of Florida's controversial elections bill

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The question before Hinkle did not include changes to early voting and other controversial parts of the law that still are at issue in the Washington, D.C. court case.


Those other provisions include reducing the number of days allowed for early voting in the state, as well as requiring Florida registered voters to have to re-register if they moved to a different county. Failing to do so would force them to vote with a provisional ballot, which would not be counted on election day.


Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson responded to Hinkle's ruling by saying, "This law clearly was designed to stop people from voting, and I?m glad to see the judge?s ruling."


The Chair of the Florida Democratic party, Rod Smith, was similarly pleased, saying, "Under Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Republican?s have led an unprecedented assault on voting rights ? a basic right of all Americans ? and it must stop. Today?s decision is a victory for the people of Florida and a defeat to the extremist GOP leadership in Tallahassee. ?


The League of Women Voters filed the lawsuit against former Secretary of State Kurt Browning last year after the law went into effect. The LWV announced after the law was passed that would stop registering voters after more than 70 years because of the potential fines, which would go up to $1,000.

"If the goal is to discourage voter-registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, the 48-hour deadline may succeed. But if the goal is to further the state’s legitimate interests without unduly burdening the rights of voters and voter- registration organizations, 48 hours is a bad choice."

Those words were written in the decision announced Thursday afternoon by Judge Robert Hinkle, ruling that that particular provision of the controversial elections bill passed by the Florida Legislature in 2011 should be struck down.

Previous Florida law allowed third-party groups such as the League of Women Voters to take as long as 10 days to submit voter registration cards into local supervisor of elections offices.

But other aspects of the law that opponents have found onerous remain.

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