This bill should be KILLED, not amended. It disenfranchises voters, hurts the citizen initiative processs, opens the floodgates for out-of-state-contributions to campaigns, and gives too much power to the Secretary of State.
Please let your readers know they should contact their Representative and Senator to VOTE NO on SB956.
Kindra Muntz, President
Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE)
Co-Founder, Florida Voters Coalition
Member, VoteTrustUSA Leaders
DATE: April 16, 2009
FROM: Brad Ashwell, Florida PIRG
RE: Dangerous elections legislation (SB 956)
We are writing to urge you to editorialize in strong opposition to a very dangerous piece of elections legislation – Senate Bill 956. While there are many important issues currently under debate in the Legislature, none should be of greater significance to your readers than SB-956. If passed, this measure would harm voters in a number of ways, including but not limited to the following:
Significantly diminish the total number of registered voters
Make it virtually impossible for citizens to have a direct impact on specific issues that they feel are not being addressed by the legislature
Severely – if not completely – restrict the activities of non-partisan election protection programs which solve many Election Day problems by providing critical legal assistance to voters
Punish voters who have moved
Allow political committees formed in other states to operate in Florida without complying with Florida registration and reporting requirements
Prevent eligible citizens from registering to vote
SB-956 would hurt third party voter registration efforts by removing current limits on fines, creating criminal penalties and other additional burdens.
SB-956 requires third party voter registration groups to register all volunteers with the Division of Supervisors of Elections who will create a database. This creates yet another burden on third party groups and could open up members of groups to harassment by those who take issue with a certain organization. It would also have a fiscal impact at a time where we should be spending tax dollars very carefully.
SB-956 requires third party groups to turn in signed voter applications within 48 hours of the signature which will be extremely difficult for many groups – especially those whose operations are composed primarily or solely of volunteers.
SB-956 imposes criminal penalties on third party voter registration groups and volunteer groups orchestrating voter registration drives. This is excessive and unnecessary.
In the end these changes are likely to significantly diminish the numbers of registered voters which should be the exact opposite goal of this legislative body.
SB-956 will make it much harder for grassroots groups to exercise their constitutional right to propose ballot initiatives, while potentially disenfranchising those who innocently sign petitions.
If a signature gatherer violates the law and their registration is invalidated the petitions signed by innocent voters should not be invalidated as well. Under SB-956 petitions will be invalidated if a paid petition circulator is found violating the law. This is unnecessary and will likely lead to voters being disenfranchised even with a notification requirement.
SB-956 creates registration and training requirements for petition gatherers with vague language leaving much up to DOS rulemaking in terms of the location, frequency and cost.