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Senator Rouson, District 19 — Press Release


August 31, 2012

CONTACT: Michelle DeMarco, 850-487-5833

Senator Arthenia Joyner Applauds Judge's Move To Halt New GOP Law Blocking 3rd Party Voter Registrations

TALLAHASSEE – State Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa), Chair, Florida Legislative Black Caucus hailed the announcement by a federal judge on Wednesday that he intends to block provisions of a GOP-backed elections law which had slammed the breaks on registering new voters, especially Democrats.

“It seems the Republican-controlled legislative branch needs a constant reminder from the independent Judicial branch about their Constitutional obligations,” said Senator Joyner. “Punishing teachers for engaging their students or the League of Women Voters for engaging the citizenry sank our democracy to new lows and they should be deeply ashamed.”

The passage in 2011 of a new elections law in Florida not only drew numerous court challenges, but forced groups such as the League to suspend their registration of new voters. Under the law, third party registration groups were subject to hefty fines and even felony charges if they failed to submit new registrations within 48 hours. The previous time period had been within 10 days.  Just last year, at least one civics teacher ran afoul of the contentious law and faced thousands of dollars in fines for helping students sign up to vote.

While Republican supporters of the controversial changes claimed that the tighter restrictions were needed to thwart questionable voter fraud, evidence is mounting supporting opponents’ claims that the move was nothing more than suppressing the Democratic vote in advance of the upcoming presidential election.

“The fix was in,” said Senator Joyner. “Since this law took effect, voter registration, especially new Democratic voter registrations declined dramatically. This drop was neither a fluke nor an unintended consequence; it was by design.”

While the judge’s decision this week clears the way for third party groups to resume their voter registration efforts, there remains little time to do so. The registration deadline for the November elections is just five weeks away.

“We need to redouble our efforts, especially in the minority communities, to regain the ground we lost thanks to this blatant voter suppression attempt,” said Senator Joyner. “But regain it we will.”