Florida is Again the Laughing Stock of America

George E. Curry | 6/14/2012, 3:04 p.m.

To make it more difficult to organize voter registration drives, Scott signed a law requiring groups registering voters to pre-register with the state and turn in voter registration forms without 48 hours of collection.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle ruled on a suit that challenged those provisions by the League of Women Voters of Florida, Rock the Vote and Florida Public Interest Research Group Educational Fund. The groups said such requirements infringed on their constitutional rights of free speech and association.

Judge Hinkle dismissed the state's assertion that no constitutional rights were being violated. "The assertion that the challenged provisions implicate no constitutional rights is plainly wrong,'' he wrote in his decision. The plaintiffs wish to speak, encouraging others to register to votes, and some of the challenged provisions - for example, the requirement to disclose in advance the identity of an employee or volunteer who will do nothing more than speak - regulate pure speech. This is core First Amendment activity."

The U.S. Justice Department has also objected to Florida making it more difficult for citizens to vote.

Not surprisingly, Florida officials are appealing the court ruling and the Justice Department's intervention.

George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA) and editorial director of Heart & Soul magazine. He is a keynote speaker, moderator, and media coach. Curry can be reached through his Web site, www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge.