The Palm Beach Post is reporting that a former state lawmaker is suing over a provision in Florida’s controversial new elections law that prohibits potential candidates from changing their political party one year before the time they can qualify to run in a general election.
Nancy Argenziano, a former Republican state lawmaker, was hoping to run as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Panama City.
However, Florida’s new voting law stands in her way — specifically, a provision that “bars candidates from switching parties one year before the qualifying period for the general election begins, meaning the candidate must be registered in the party for nearly 18 months before the 2012 November election,” the Post reports.
The provision is unconstitutional, Argenziano’s lawyer Janet Ferris – a former Tallahassee judge – argued in a lawsuit filed in Leon County, because the Florida Constitution “prohibits any law from imposing unnecessary and unreasonable disqualifications on those who wish to seek office.”
Argenziano switched her GOP party registration to the Independent Party shortly before the law went into effect this summer, she said. But if she had opted to register with no party affiliation, or “NPA,” she would not be in the fix she is in now.
Requiring a candidate to declare their party affiliation nearly 18 months before the election is “preposterous,” the fiery Argenziano told reporters at a press conference this morning.
“It is tantamount to requiring party declaration before even the full extent of the incompetence and deceit of the changing candidate slate is revealed and works to deprive a person of the ability to confront that deceit and incompetence at the most fundamental level, which is to oppose them on the ballot,” Argenziano said.
So far, most of the run-ins with the state’s new elections law have come from groups or individuals hoping to register voters. Among many controversial provisions, the law places onerous restrictions on voter registration drives.
Already, two teachers have faced possible legal trouble after registering students to vote. Both teachers unknowingly broke the law. And groups that once ran voter registration drives in the state have already halted the practice because of the added cost new fines pose to them.