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Tallahassee, FL – Civic groups and Florida voters won a huge victory when a federal judge indicated he will permanently remove some of the most restrictive parts of Florida’s new voter registration laws, which have made it harder for student governments and civic groups to help register young people to vote.
“This is an absolute victory for students and the civic minded world. Engaging our students in this election is of utmost importance to the Student Government Association at Florida State University. We are thrilled that students now have easier access to register to vote and exercise their rights as United States citizens,” said Harrison DuBosar of the Florida State University Student Government Association.
This fall, Florida PIRG’s New Voters Project, a non-partisan effort, is working with campuses across the state to help young people register and turn out so that their voices can be heard on the issues they care about.
The League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote, and the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund filed a lawsuit last December challenging the restrictions. Federal Judge Robert L. Hinkle temporarily blocked enforcement of the law in May, saying the restrictions violated the U.S. Constitution and federal law.
Yesterday, Judge Hinkle issued an order stating the court will grant the groups' request to permanently remove the restrictions once he receives confirmation that a federal appeals court has dismissed the case.
“This order is a decisive victory for Florida voters,” said Lee Rowland, counsel for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, one of the attorneys who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “The Florida legislature has tried repeatedly to stifle access to voter registration opportunities, and once again a federal court has stopped them in their tracks. We are thrilled that voter registration groups can now get back to what they do best — expanding our democracy.”
“Florida PIRG is committed to signing up thousands of first time voters across the state each election cycle. Our representative democracy relies on an engaged citizenry, yet our representatives in Florida have repeatedly passed laws that get in the way of expanding voter participation,” added Leigh-Anne Cole of Florida PIRG’s New Voters Project. “We are eager to move forward with our important civic engagement work, and hail today’s important victory.”
Yesterday, the court indicated that it will grant a joint motion filed by both the civic groups and the state of Florida permanently removing the restrictions. Both the civic groups and the state of Florida have agreed not to appeal the ruling. The parties separately signed a settlement that ends the case once the court granted this motion and awards the civic groups their attorneys’ costs.
Florida PIRG Education Fund is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest organization. Visit us at www.FloridaPIRGEdFund.org.
The Student PIRGs’ New Voters Project is one of the largest non-partisan young voter mobilization campaigns in the country. In 2012, the project will work with over 100 campuses in 17 states to run youth vote campaigns that will leverage proven on the ground and online peer-to-peer techniques to turn out young voters. www.studentvote.org
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