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NAACP Statement on Federal Court Decision Blocking Parts of Florida’s Voter Registration Law

(Washington, DC) – The NAACP has released the following statement regarding the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida to block the enforcement of some of the most egregious components of Florida’s new third-party voter registration law:

From Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the National NAACP:

“This decision is the first step towards turning back the egregious assault on voting rights that Florida passed in to law last year,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.  “This law is a blatant and malicious attack on the rights of Florida’s citizens and those who seek to ensure their participation in upcoming elections.  As the court noted, many parts of this law are harsh, impractical, burdensome and unconstitutional. We hope that the courts take the next step and strike this law down permanently.”

From Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP:

“This decision is a critical victory in the fight to protect the voting rights of thousands of Floridians who will depend on third-party, non-partisan groups like the NAACP to register for upcoming elections,” stated Florida State Conference President Adora Obi Nweze. “The NAACP is now better positioned to help our community ensure their voices are heard at the ballot box. “

The 48-hour restriction that was rejected by the Court today was brought to national attention in March when an incident involving the Okaloosa County Branch of the NAACP was profiled by the New York Times. Branch President Sabu L. Williams received a letter from the Florida Secretary of State warning that signatures collected on the Sunday of the Martin Luther King holiday were “untimely under the law” because they had been turned in 49 hours after they were gathered -- even though elections offices had been closed that Monday in observance of the holiday. The letter further warned the NAACP that “any future violation of the third-party voter registration law may result in my referral of the matter to the attorney general for an enforcement action.”

The Court’s ruling granted a temporary injunction on the enforcement of the following new registration requirements:  that groups submit all completed voter registration applications to the state within 48 hours of collection; that individuals who do not physically collect voter registration forms pre-register with the state before engaging in any voter registration activity; that organizations give the state notice within 10 days when any volunteer or employee stops volunteering for the organization; that individuals who engage in voter registration sign a form threatening them with criminal penalties before they may register voters; and  that organizations send a monthly report to the state listing the number of voter registration applications the organization distributed and received.  The Court’s full ruling can be found here.

Last December, the NAACP released the report “Defending Democracy” which detailed the various attacks on voting rights, including Florida’s change to third party, non partisan voter registration procedures.  The full report is at http://www.naacp.org/pages/defending-democracy

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Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.