New law would put restrictions on 3rd party voter registration organizations

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Local voting rights groups are taking issue with a new law making its way through the legislature in Tallahassee. Senate Bill 7050 puts new restrictions on 3rd party voter registration organizations which opponents say directly affects their efforts to register more voters.

Republicans say the changes are needed to tighten election integrity but groups like the League of Women Voters of Jacksonville and the Northside Coalition say it ultimately makes it harder for Floridians to vote.

“It does appear in a way that our legislators are actually trying to intimidate those of us who are doing the work in our state,” League of Women Voters of Jacksonville President, Lanelle Phillmon said.

Senate Bill 7050:

  • Requires 3rd party organizations to re-register with the state every election cycle
  • It restricts people convicted of a felony related to elections or identity theft, or who aren’t US citizens, from handling voter registrations
  • It shortens the time frame from 14 to 10 days for groups to deliver voter registrations
  • It fines for applications submitted late, changed from a one-time fine to a fine for each day it’s late

Phillmon said she would have liked to have seen Florida’s Secretary of State or division of elections work closer with 3rd party organizations to sign up more voters, instead she said Senate Bill 7050 makes it harder for Floridians to vote.

“Wow, we would love to see our legislators make sure that any eligible citizen in the state of Florida is able to register to vote,” Phillmon said. “And then we would like to see them, make sure we’re removing barriers between registered voters and the ballot box, not creating hurdles. For people who are trying to do good works out here in our community.”

Republican supporters of the bill say it will help ensure voter registration groups properly turn in their registration forms and protect the personal information of people signing up to vote. One lawmaker saying that Senate Bill 7050 will help to keep Florida as the gold standard in elections administration.

Northside Coalition spokesman Ben Frazier says Senate Bill 7050 is a danger to democracy because it’s designed to suppress votes. The bill is currently being discussed in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee.

The Florida House is also considering similar bills.

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.