Via the must-read Charles Pierce
, Gov. Rick Scott's Florida gets a little bit more insane
Prepping 17-year-olds for the privileges and responsibilities of voting in a democracy is nothing new for civics teachers, but when Jill Cicciarelli organized a drive at the start of the school year to get students pre-registered, she ran afoul of Florida's new and controversial election law.
Among other things, the new rules require that third parties who sign up new voters register with the state and that they submit applications within 48 hours. The law also reduces the time for early voting from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new address at the polls to use a provisional ballot.
Republican lawmakers who backed the rules said they were necessary to reduce voter fraud. Critics -- including U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who testified before a congressional committee -- said the law would suppress voter participation.
Jill Cicciarelli could potentially face thousands of dollars in fines, though she's more likely to get a warning from the state. But what Pierce says:
The fact that Jill Cicciarelli is subject even theoretically to civil penalties is mind-boggling. What in the name of god do you teach in civics if you don't teach kids that they have the right to vote and that they ought to exercise it? How else are they going to figure out that their governor is a snakeheaded Medicare scam artist and that their state legislature is an embarrassment to civic life all the way back to Hammurabi?
More seriously, the new law has led the League of Women Voters to cease their voter registration efforts, as well as complicating registration programs for both political parties. Florida is subject to the federal Voting Rights Act, so some sections of the law are under review in five Florida counties because of past racial discrimination: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe. Last week a federal judge dismissed a legal challenge brought by the American Civil Liberties Union to halt implementation of the law in the state's remaining counties.