[JURIST] US District Judge Patricia Seitz of the Southern District of Florida [official website] on Monday threw out Florida's Third-Party Registration Law [text], which had imposed steeply scaled fines on organizations and volunteers who failed to submit voter applications within specified time periods. Seitz ruled [opinion text, PDF] that the law "unconstitutionally discriminates in favor of political parties by excluding them from the definition of 'third party voter registration organization'" and that the law's stiff fines are unconstitutional because they "chill...First Amendment speech and association rights."
Several labor unions had criticized the law [complaint, PDF], saying that it blocked voter registration drives because of a high financial risk, which imposed a $250 fine on organizations and volunteers that failed to submit voter applications within ten days of application, $500 if organizations and volunteers failed to submit applications by the registration deadline, and $5,000 if organizations and volunteers failed to submit the application altogether. Florida state officials said they would appeal the decision to the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The plaintiffs, which included the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Florida AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees [advocacy websites] and other smaller groups, called Monday's ruling a "win for democracy." AP has more. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has local coverage.