Such a position is only natural for students due to the fact that HB 1355 precludes their campus student governments from engaging in voter registration, a formerly common activity, without first registering with the state. It also subjects them to steep fines if they do not turn the voter registration forms in within 48 hours, as opposed to the previous 10 day deadline. This, among other conditions, has prompted the League of Women Voters to stop their nearly century old voter registration activities in Florida. Perhaps even more importantly, the law takes away a nearly 40 year old right to change one's address at their polling location and vote on a regular ballot, forcing them instead to vote on a provisional ballot. In 2008, 51% of provisional ballots were not even counted. It is no secret that state college students have higher rates of mobility as they typically matriculate from state college to a four year institution after obtaining an associate's degree. The law will, and is meant to, create obstacles for this constituency. Similar laws adopted in other states have prompted New York University's Brennan Center for Justice to estimate that 5 million voters nationwide may be disenfranchised in 2012.
FLIER believes these voters are being targeted out of a desire by one side of the two-party system to present barriers to the already limited competition offered by the other. The predictable and stagnant two-party system, dominated by a small group of large donors, encourages targeting voters that typically vote for one party over the other for lack of greater competition, pluralism, and representation. Furthermore, given that the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision basically proved that presently money equals representation, and more money equals more representation, it is easier to betray such non-moneyed constituencies without suffering electoral consequences. In essence, these tactics are encouraged by the lack of real representative democracy in Florida and around the nation.
Florida's 1 million state college students have taken the lead in rejecting HB 1355 and proposing reforms to afford all Floridians the opportunity to exercise their right to vote, free of partisan bias to access. What the students are proposing is certainly bold and innovative, but it is only the beginning of what is needed to build representative democracy in Florida. Elected officials should take notice and reconcile themselves with FCSSGA's position, not only to prove that they value the concept of representative democracy at all, but that they are serving in the public's interest as well.
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The Florida Initiative for Electoral Reform is a non-partisan coalition of groups and individuals recognizing the need for electoral reforms to enrich and expand democracy in our state and its localities. In addition to advocacy, we seek to provide education on electoral reform and the policy solutions necessary to realize it. We are working towards a vibrant democracy with accessibility for the average person, a competitive political environment, and pluralism in policy and decision making. For more information please visit http://www.floridaelectoralreform.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.