ST. PETERSBURG — Veteran League of Women Voters volunteerMary Berglund had been registering voters since 1986, until thecivic group a year ago abruptly halted its 72-year practice in theface of a new Florida law restricting voter registration campaigns. "It just seemed so unfair and was so unexpected,' Berglund said ofthe 2011 state law that, among other things, imposed stiff finesfor groups that failed to submit voter registration forms within 48hours of obtaining them. But Berglund and her civic-minded colleagues gathered in front of aPinellas elections office Wednesday to announce they are gettingback in the game. |
After a federal judge last week temporarilyblocked parts of that new elections law as violations of the FirstAmendment, the League of Women Voters and other groups are resumingtheir nonpartisan registration efforts. "We're going to dust off our clip boards, and pick up the forms andget into the business of registering people to vote," declared St.Petersburg League of Women Voters President Darden Rice."Registering citizens to vote is part of our core mission, andwe're excited to get back to work." At a similar news conference in Orlando, organizers were joined byofficials from the nonpartisan group Rock the Vote, which also isresuming Florida voter registration efforts in the wake of lastweek's court ruling. Rock the Vote president Heather Smith said her group registered100,000 young voters in Florida in 2008 and still should be able tosurpass that total this year. Deirdre Macnab, president of theFlorida League of Women Voters, estimated her organization, whichalso emphasizes educating voters about issues and candidates,registers tens of thousands of people each cycle.
The voter registration groups still will face more restrictionsthan they've been accustomed to, including registering withelections offices and submitting the names of every volunteercollecting voter registration forms. "There is going to be a significantly greater amount ofrecord-keeping than we had in the past. We hope that it is amanageable,' said Macnab. "Our volunteers want to put in an houror two.
They don't want to do a lot of administrativerecord-keeping." Adam C. Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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