The League of Women Voters of Florida, which previously decried an elections bill passed this session as an attempt at voter suppression, announced today that it will halt its efforts to sign up new voters if the bill becomes law.

In an earlier interview, President Dierdre Macnab said the group was worried it could face fines under the tough new regulations the measure places on groups that register voters, including a requirement that they hand in filled-out registration forms within 48 hours, and that it didn’t want to put its members, volunteers and local affiliates at risk of drawing penalties.

Gov. Rick Scott still has to sign the measure, which he discussed in an interview this weekend with The Florida Times-Union:

Scott declined to take a position on one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that passed the Legislature, an elections reform bill which sharply decreases the number of days that early voting can take place.

The governor, who relied on strong early-voting turnout in his election wins, said he had yet to see the details of the bill.

“I want to make sure people vote,” the governor said. “The things I’m going to look at is ‘Does it increase the chance for people to stay active?’”

House Bill 1355 is already having the opposite effect. Could the governor buck his own party and bust out his veto pen?

Here’s the full release from the League:

Tallahassee, FL — Today, the League of Women Voters of Florida announced that it will cease voter registration in the state of Florida upon implementation of HB 1355. For more information, please see the below statement from League president Deirdre Macnab:

It is with great regret that the League of Women Voters of Florida announces that we must cease our voter registration efforts in this state should HB 1355, the elections bill recently passed by the Florida legislature, become law.

Despite the fact that the League of Women Voters is one of the nation’s most respected civic organizations, with a 91-year history of registering and educating voters, we will be unable to comply with the egregious provisions contained in HB 1355.

Not only does the bill make it more difficult for voters to participate in our democracy via a decrease in early voting and new policies regarding address changes at the polls, it also imposes an undue burden on groups such as ours that work to register voters.

Under the false pretext of reducing “fraud,” Florida’s legislative leaders have instituted a law that will shut down the efforts of groups such as the League, the Boy Scouts, student groups, civic organizations and others who undertake the important task of helping citizens get registered to vote.

While the League remains committed to empowering an active and informed citizenry, we cannot and will not place our thousands of volunteers at risk, subjecting them to a process in which one late form could result in their facing financial and civil penalties.

By passing HB 1355, the legislature has declared war on voters. Effective immediately, the League will begin to explore legal remedies. In the meantime, the League urges Governor Rick Scott to stand up for democracy and veto HB 1355.

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