Florida teacher may be in trouble with controversial elections law
Secretary of State Kurt Browning has asked Attorney General Pam Bondi “to investigate and seek applicable fines” for another teacher who recently got in trouble for breaking a part of the state’s new and controversial elections law, according to the Associated Press. The Daytona Beach News-Journal recently reported that New Smyrna Beach high school teacher Jill Cicciarelli could face legal problems because she preregistered high school students to vote without registering with the state beforehand.
The AP reports that a teacher in Santa Rosa County could also face legal problems:
Browning wrote that election officials in Santa Rosa County have documented 76 registration applications collected by the teacher that appear to have violated the law that went into effect this year.
It requires third parties to turn in applications to the county Supervisor of Elections Office within 48 hours of being collected. The old law had a 10-day deadline.
Each violation can result in a $50 fine, but no single individual or organization can be fined more than $1,000 in a year.
The letter says the unnamed Pace High School teacher has a history of violations.
“The circumstances of this case greatly concern me,” Browning wrote.
Florida’s new elections law has installed restrictions on third-party voter registration drives, as well as financial penalties on groups that violate those rules. Multiple groups that once ran voter registration drives in the state have already halted the practice because of the added cost new fines pose to the groups.
Opponents of the law argue the measure is intended to suppress the vote during Florida’s 2012 election cycle.
The example of teachers facing run-ins with the new law could mean trouble for the youth vote in Florida. Estelle Rogers, the director of advocacy with Project Vote, told The Florida Independent that if high schools were to stop preregistering 16- and 17-year-olds because of the new laws, it would be a huge step back for the state. According to Rogers, Florida’s preregistration program has “been shown to get young people,” a demographic that is notorious for low turnout in elections, ”enthusiastic about voting.”
Florida is currently waiting for a ruling on controversial aspects of the law from a court in the District of Columbia.