Two identical Florida bills, HB 25 and SB 388, relax the existing law that restricts whom political parties may nominate. Existing law, since 2011, has told parties that they can’t nominate anyone who was a member of some other party during the year before the candidate filing deadline. The bills change that to provide that parties can’t nominate someone who was a member of another party at any time during the period six months before the general election.
Because of the existing severe restriction, a former state legislator, Nancy Argenziano, was forced to run for a seat in the State House last year as the nominee of the Independent Party. She wanted to run as a Democrat, but she was not permitted to do so because she had unknowingly and accidentally registered as a member of the Independent Party during 2011. She still did well in the November 2012 election, polling 42.03% in a two-person race as the Independent Party nominee.
HB 25 and SB 388 have many other election law provisions as well, including a relaxation of the severe requirements placed on organizations that conduct voter registration drives. Some of those restrictions were enjoined by a federal court last year. The existing law requires voter registration organizations to be subject to severe fines if they don’t submit a voter registration form to election officials within 48 hours of the voter having filled out that form.