CLC, League of Women Voters of Florida Sues State For Restricting and Penalizing Voter Engagement Efforts
Tallahassee, FL — Today, the League of Women Voters of Florida, represented by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), sued Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Secretary of State Cord Byrd to block provisions of Florida’s recently-enacted omnibus election law that would restrict and penalize basic nonpartisan civic engagement efforts. The law, Senate Bill 7050, directly targets and drastically restricts the ability of nonpartisan civic engagement organizations, like the League of Women Voters of Florida, to engage with voters, violating their right to freedom of speech and association.
"Folks helping their neighbors access and exercise the fundamental freedom to vote is one of the pillars of our democracy," said Paul Smith, senior vice president at Campaign Legal Center. Instead of celebrating civic engagement groups for their work to encourage participation in our democracy, Florida legislators restricted and penalized basic voter outreach efforts. This action will directly harm members of historically marginalized communities – including voters of color, low-income voters, voters with disabilities and young voters – who rely on these nonpartisan efforts to help make their voices heard."
According to an independent analysis, Floridians of color are five times more likely to register to vote through nonpartisan third-party civic engagement organizations than white Floridians.
"Senate Bill 7050 is yet another assault on democracy and attempt to muzzle Floridians,” said Cecile M. Scoon, Esq., president of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “Florida seems intent on making the act of voting nerve-racking. We are forced to turn to the courts to ensure nonpartisan community-based voter registration organizations, like the League, can continue their important work of registering voters and ensure voters have equal and meaningful access to the ballot box.”
"Florida continues to be a leader in the attack on voters and voter support organizations. Florida voters continue to be the punching bag for shameless anti-voter politicians,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation at the League of Women Voters of the US. “Communities across the nation rely on nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters to navigate the voting process. That is why the League will continue the fight to expand voter access, to support the millions of voters we serve each election cycle.”
The lawsuit challenges provisions of Senate Bill 7050, signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis today, that would:
- Fine nonpartisan civic engagement groups $50,000 for every volunteer with certain felony convictions or who is not a U.S. citizen who registers voters on behalf of the organization, preventing non-U.S. citizens and people with certain felony convictions from even engaging with voters in their community.
- Shorten the timeframe for civic engagement groups to verify information and deliver completed voter registration applications to election officials.
- Force non-partisan civic engagement organizations to re-register with the state before registering any voters in each and every general election cycle.
- Significantly raise the potential maximum fines for nonpartisan civic engagement groups engaged in First Amendment-protected voter registration activity.
- Require groups to provide a receipt to those who fill out voter registration forms, but restricting those same groups from keeping records of those receipts.
- Prohibit civic organizations from retaining voters’ personal information, even with the voter’s consent, which limits their ability to continue associating with voters whom they help to register and providing them with assistance and information about how and when to participate in upcoming elections.
The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center advances democracy through law at the federal, state and local levels, fighting for every American’s rights to responsive government and a fair opportunity to participate in and affect the democratic process.
The League of Women Voters of Florida is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government, working to increase understanding of major policy issues, and advocating for legislative changes and policies for the public good. For more information, visit LWVFL.org.