People For the American Way Foundation

Think you can help people register to vote? Tell that to Florida and South Carolina.

Last year Florida passed HB 1355, or what’s commonly referred to by voting rights advocates as the “Voter Suppression Act” for its disenfranchising impacts, including its reduction of early voting hours and its harsh new restrictions on community groups seeking to help register voters – restrictions that caused the Florida League of Women Voters to drop its registration efforts. DOJ concerns have been filed as part of ongoing litigation. (Click here for more from the Brennan Center.)

Stephen Colbert shed light on the part of the Florida law that mandates community groups turn in voter registration forms within 48 hours of completion, instead of the previous 10 days, and attaches a fine for non-compliance.

The Colbert piece features Representative Rich Glorioso, who attended last year’s ALEC meeting. Representative Dennis Baxley, the bill’s lead sponsor, also has ties to ALEC.

Also with ties to ALEC, a similar battle is now being fought in South Carolina. Representative Alan Clemmons, an ALEC member, is the lead sponsor of HB 4549. Think Progress reporting:

Last year, the Florida legislature passed a bill enacting requirements for groups conducting voter registration drives so onerous that even the League of Women Voters were forced to pull out of the state. Sensible individuals would see this episode as a cautionary tale. South Carolina legislators view it instead as a how-to guide.

This week, the South Carolina House will consider HB 4549, a bill that mimics Florida’s changes to its voter registration laws. Among the changes contained in the bill is a new requirement that voter registration groups must submit registration applications within 48 hours of completion or face a fine of up to $1,000 per application. It has already been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and faces good prospects in the overall House, which Republicans control 76-48.

It’s not off the table yet, but good news: HB 4549 was recently sent back to its original committee (Judiciary) for another review, the same day one of its sponsors (Representative Rick Quinn) requested that his name be removed from the bill.

The bad news: South Carolina has also introduced an onerous proof of citizenship requirement through SB 304, sponsored by ALEC member George Campsen. AlterNet reporting:

South Carolina is again considering a bill from the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to limit access to the ballot box. A nearly identical version of an ALEC voting bill is moving through the state Senate and comes on the heels of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) blocking South Carolina’s ALEC-inspired voter ID law as discriminatory against people of color.

State Senator Chip Campsen (R), an ALEC member, introduced SB 304, which is almost a mirror-image of the ALEC Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act. The bill requires proof of citizenship to register to vote and has opened up a new round of debate over voting rights.

And as AlterNet and the ACLU note, the state is still embroiled in its battle over voter ID. At least they’re working on dispelling the dead voter myth.

For more information, check out The Right to Vote under Attack: The Campaign to Keep Millions of Americans from the Ballot Box, a Right Wing Watch: In Focus report by PFAW Foundation.


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