Limits on Voting Drives in Florida Fall Wayside

     (CN) – Florida cannot enforce provisions of its new election law that placed restrictions on community-based voter-registration drives, a federal judge ruled.
     In December, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund sued the state to overturn new rules for organizations that conduct voter-registration drives.
     The statute, which took effect on May 19, 2011, required third-party voter-registration organizations to deliver completed applications to designated offices within 48 hours of receiving them, among other provisions.
     Organizers claimed that the law sabotaged their efforts to register voters and discouraged Floridians from registering to vote in the upcoming election.
     U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle temporarily blocked several sections of the law in May, finding that they placed unnecessary burdens on voter-registration groups. The judge noted that the provisions were likely unconstitutional and conflicted with the National Voting Rights Act of 1993, which encourages voter-registration drives.
     The court left other provisions intact, such as rules requiring voter-registration organizations to include identification numbers on the back of each application and to submit forms electronically.
     The state filed a notice of appeal, but subsequently reached a settlement with the plaintiffs. The parties then sought a permanent injunction that would resolve the pending issues between them.
     Hinkle said earlier this week that he will permanently bar the challenged provisions once the 11th Circuit dismisses the appeal or remands the case back to the Northern District of Florida.
     “A District Court ordinarily cannot enter a final judgment – even an unopposed final judgment – while the appeal of a preliminary injunction is pending,” Hinkle wrote. “But a District Court can enter an order indicating that it will enter the unopposed final judgment if the Court of Appeals remands for that purpose or the appeal is dismissed.”

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