State Law Changes Affect Third-Party Voter Registration Organizations
Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark announces a change in state law will affect the way some organizations conduct voter registration drives. A change in Chapter 97 of the Florida Statutes requires any third-party voter registration organization to register with the State Division of Elections. While the law took effect in 2006, a court injunction prevented its implementation. The court injunction was recently lifted. Subsequently, the Division of Elections’ Administrative Rule 1S-2.042 regarding third-party registration organizations was filed for adoption February 6 and takes effect February 26.
The law defines a third-party registration organization as “any person, entity or organization soliciting or collecting voter registration applications.” The law does not apply to anyone registering family members; or employees of the elections division, supervisors of elections, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or federally mandated voter registration agencies. (Florida Statutes 97.021) The law originally excluded political parties from the definition of third-party organizations; however, that exception was eliminated in 2008.
“Political parties, civic groups, homeowners associations and the numerous issue-oriented groups will now need to register as third-party organizations in order to conduct voter registration drives,” said Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark. “This new law will also apply to PTAs, schools, churches, synagogues and other nonprofit organizations.”
There is no penalty for not registering with the state. However, if a third-party organization keeps any signed voter applications longer than 10 days, a fine of $50 per application applies. If the organization keeps any signed voter applications past the voter registration deadline for an election, there is a fine of $100 per application. If the organization keeps the applications, it will be fined $500 per application. In addition, if the action was committed willfully, the fines will be higher ($250/$500/$1,000 per application, respectively). Fines are capped at $1,000 per calendar year per organization. (Florida Statutes 97.0575)
The statute provides that if a third-party registration organization is registered with the state, any fines the organization incurs will be reduced by three-fourths. Third-party registration organizations must file quarterly reports with the Division of Elections.
For more information about third-party voter registration procedures, call the Bureau of Voter Registration Services at (850) 245-6290. Forms DS DE 106 Registration Form and DS DE 107 Quarterly Report are both available on the Division of Elections Web site: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/, under Forms and Publications.
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