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Florida: federal court hearing on penalties for voter registration groups

AP reports: A federal judge in Miami raised questions Thursday about a new Florida voter registration law that exempts political parties from stiff penalties imposed on other groups that violate rules on the handling of registration applications.

Concluding three days of hearings on a challenge to the law, U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz asked attorneys representing Florida Secretary of State Sue Cobb to explain why the Democratic and Republican parties -- as well as 23 minor ones, including the Surfers Party of America and the American Poor People Party -- were allowed to play by different rules. ...

The lawsuit asks Seitz to block implementation of the law, which took effect Jan. 1. Groups ranging from the League of Women Voters to the AFL-CIO say it has caused a complete halt in their voter registration drives this year.

The law imposes fines of $250 for each form that is submitted to election officials more than 10 days after it is collected from an individual. Fines can reach $5,000 for each form that is collected but never submitted. Third-party groups say they have stopped voter registration work because of the potentially ruinous cost of violations. -- MiamiHerald.com | 08/04/2006 | Florida defends omitting parties from voter registration law

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