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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

New rules for third party voter registration groups to take effect



Starting Thursday, voter registration groups throughout the Tampa Bay area and across the state will have to register with the Florida Division of Elections. It's a provision of state law that's been on the books since 2006, but a recently lifted court injunction kept it from taking effect.

The rule applies to political parties, churches, schools, civic organizations, nonprofit and issue advocacy groups - the whole laundry list of players in the voter registration game.

There's no penalty for not registering. However, fines capped at $1,000 a year will be levied against organizations that fail to relay applications to an elections office in a timely way.

Jennifer Krell Davis, spokeswoman for the Department of State, said that in the last presidential cycle, groups involved in registration generally sought to comply with the law, but her office had no power to punish those who did not.

No longer.

Voters "are basically entrusting their right to vote to a third party," Krell said. "There felt like there needed to be some enforcement to protect that right."

Will Van Sant, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 11:45am]


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