Florida is seeking to revamp a law that allows only citizens to register voters


Carolina Wassmer, director of a Florida group focused on building Latino political power, said Tuesday that her organization could be devastated if the court allows the state to bar noncitizens across the country from participating in voter registration efforts in Florida.

This restriction is part of Florida’s new law SB7050was blocked by a federal court by emergency injunction Last July. But the state is appealing the ruling, and oral arguments are scheduled for Thursday before the 11th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Many long-time residents of Florida are legal permanent residents. But those who have not yet become citizens may participate in civic activities such as helping with voter registration or supporting a campaign as part of their journey to become a US citizen or to learn about the US government.

The injunction allowed Poder Latinx to continue using employees who already have field experience and do the work year after year, even if they can’t vote, “because they know the importance of voting,” Wasmer said.

Legal permanent residents, in general, must wait five years before they are eligible to become U.S. citizens.

However, the text of the law, when implemented, stipulates that a fine of $50,000 per person be imposed on any non-citizen found to be collecting or handling voter registration forms.

If the injunction is lifted, “we would have to completely restructure, and that would be devastating to our program,” Wasmer said. Latinx powderFlorida manager.

Mark Ard, a spokesman for the Florida Secretary of State’s Office, said the office does not comment on pending litigation. NBC News also reached out to the state Attorney General’s Office.

The injunction blocking voter registration restrictions was granted as part of a lawsuit filed by the Hispanic Federation, a national Latino advocacy group. She is also challenging other parts of the law sponsored by Republicans along with various other groups. The case is scheduled to go to trial in April.

Community organizations are having more difficulty registering people to vote under the new provision, said Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. Communities of color are four or five times more likely to register through nonpartisan groups than their white counterparts, he said.

Voter registration numbers by outside groups have declined since 2021, when Florida began enacting voter restriction laws, said Frederic Velez, a spokesman for the Hispanic Federation.

“Florida has passed voter suppression bills every year, chipping away at our rights and chipping away at the way in which we can motivate voters to get out and vote and in which we can inform voters so we can register (them) to vote,” Velez said.

State officials said earlier that the law aims to regulate the registration process, targeting groups that regularly submit late registration forms and Ban non-citizens from voting.

Miranda said his group does not question the state’s authority to regulate third-party voter registration organizations.

“The problem here is that she created a law that has nothing to do with the problem she identified,” he said, echoing the findings of the federal judge who issued the injunction.

In issuing the injunction, Judge Mark Walker said That although Florida found a problem with timely filing of voter registration applications, it did not identify “any connective tissue between the problem and the state’s proposed solution.”

The state “acknowledged, during the hearing, a paucity of evidence linking noncitizens to late-filed voter registration applications,” the judge said.

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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