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Voter Registration Groups Slim Down Operations After Florida Upped Penalties For Breaking The Law


Florida lawmakers showed their willingness to crack down on third-party organizations who break the law when registering voters — and in response, the groups have significantly slimmed down their operations in the Sunshine State, according to a report from WUSF.

Florida’s legislature passed SB 7050 in 2023. The law increased fines on third-party voter registration groups who deliver a registration application after the deadline, return incorrectly filled out registration forms, alter a voter’s registration form, or deliver applications to the wrong counties. The law also prohibited third-party groups from pre-filling registration forms and harvesting voters’ data from their registration forms. Additionally, it barred illegal aliens and other foreign citizens from collecting voter registration forms, though that portion of the law was struck down in March by an Obama-appointee.

Fines are capped at $250,000 per year.

Since the legislation went into effect, counties have seen a “dramatic reduction” in the number of registrations returned, according to WUSF. Left-leaning Leon County saw voter registration applications go from 10,000 in 2021 and 2022 to just six since last year, according to the report.

“The volumes are much lower,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told WUSF. He attributed the drop “mostly” to organizations concluding “it’s just not worth the risk because they can be held personally liable for thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in fines.”

Mi Vecino Florida was one of a handful of groups that registered more than 36,000 voters in 2021, according to the local outlet. The group is now just focusing on “educating voters,” according to their state field director Verónica Herrera-Lucha.

Republican Secretary of State Cord Byrd said the law was necessary to hold accountable some third-party groups that are “frequent violators,” because “when they mess up it disenfranchises a voter.”

Byrd fined third-party voter registration organization Hard Knocks Strategies $34,400 in 2023 for what the state said were “repeated violations” of the law. The state reviewed 2,868 registration applications collected by the organization that “were submitted to election officials after the statutory deadline.”

“Of these registrations, at least 116 were collected before — but not delivered until after — book closing deadlines, subjecting Florida voters to potential disenfranchisement,” the Department of State found. “Hard Knocks Strategies, LLC also repeatedly turned in registrations to the incorrect county supervisors of elections, and in one instance, submitted 21 Florida voter registrations presumed to be from Texas residents.”

Several of Hard Knocks Strategies’ collection agents were also arrested in Charlotte and Lee Counties after they allegedly submitted “a large number of fraudulent” applications between 2021-2022, according to the State Department.

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