Florida touts success of law cracking down on third-party voter registration groups

by WorldTribune Staff, May 2, 2024

In 2021 and 2022, Florida’s left-leaning Leon County saw third-party organizations register 10,000 people to vote. In 2023, that number was 6.

What happened?

The Republican-led Florida legislature passed SB 7050 in 2023. The law increases fines on third-party voter registration groups who deliver a registration application after the deadline, return incorrectly filled out registration forms, alter a voter’s registration form, or deliver applications to the wrong counties.

The law also prohibits third-party groups from pre-filling registration forms and harvesting voters’ data from their registration forms.

The organizations can be fined up to $250,000 per year.

Since the law went in to effect, the number of voters being registered by third-party organizations “are much lower,” Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley told WUSF. He attributed the drop “mostly” to organizations concluding “it’s just not worth the risk because they can be held personally liable for thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in fines.”

Republican Secretary of State Cord Byrd said the law was necessary to hold accountable some third-party groups that are “frequent violators,” because “when they mess up it disenfranchises a voter.”

Byrd fined third-party voter registration organization Hard Knocks Strategies $34,400 in 2023 for what the state said were “repeated violations” of the law. The state reviewed 2,868 registration applications collected by the organization that “were submitted to election officials after the statutory deadline.”

“Of these registrations, at least 116 were collected before — but not delivered until after — book closing deadlines, subjecting Florida voters to potential disenfranchisement,” the Department of State found. “Hard Knocks Strategies, LLC also repeatedly turned in registrations to the incorrect county supervisors of elections, and in one instance, submitted 21 Florida voter registrations presumed to be from Texas residents.”

Several of Hard Knocks Strategies’ collection agents were arrested in Charlotte and Lee Counties after they allegedly submitted “a large number of fraudulent” applications between 2021-2022, according to the Florida Department of State.

Mi Vecino Florida, which registered more than 36,000 voters in 2021, has received the message loud and clear. The organization has switched to focusing on “educating voters,” according to state field director Verónica Herrera-Lucha.

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