LEE COUNTY, Fla. - Southwest Florida voters say a federal judge's ruling on a controversial law is a victory for voter registration groups. The judge says putting a strict time limit on getting the forms into the elections office is unconstitutional.
When this law was originally passed, some third-party voter registration groups said they would stop urging people to vote for fear of hefty fines. But now a judge is taking their side and some people WINK News they hold out hope this will get more people registered and out to vote.
"Most likely its a win for them." Community reaction to a law deemed unconstitutional. "I think its a victory."
House Bill 1355 sought to regulate voter registration drives by outside groups such as the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote.
"They had to register their organization, they had to provide the names of people going out and doing voter registration," said Sharon Harrington, Lee County Supervisor of Elections.
The law also said groups only had two days to send in filled-out voter registration forms, or would face hefty fines. Before, groups had ten days to get the forms in.
But now a federal judge has blocked portions of that law saying two days is not enough time. "Because you know, you cant get something from Fort Myers from Cape Coral in 2 days, like, in the mail," said Alexa Cerdan.
Cape resident Eileyn Sobeck-Bador runs the Facebook group "Get Out and Vote - Take Back the Cape." She tells WINK News her biggest battle is getting people to care. "It hasn't just been in the past couple of years, its been sort of an ongoing problem in Cape Coral and the citizens not exercising their right to vote," she said.
She says she hopes the judge's decision will continue a push to raise awareness and the number of local voters.
But although deemed unconstitutional, that decision now has to make its way through the courts, before an actual ruling will increase the amount of time. "They don't know whether they want to appeal the ruling or not, I think our election cycle will be over before that gets settled," said Harrington.
The Florida Attorney General's office says it's reviewing the ruling.
Harrington says about 76 percent of the county's population is registered to vote, but the problem is getting them to do just that. She says Lee County only has a 30 to 40 percent turnout at the polls.