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Federal Court Reinstates 4 Early Voting Days in 5 Florida Counties

Posted: Aug 20, 2012


A federal court in Washington has reinstated four early voting days in five counties in Florida.

Stating that changes in early voting laws “would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot,” the court last Thursday blocked part of Florida’s 2011 early voting law that reduced the number of early voting days from 12 to 8.

The three-judge panel at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the 2011 law to shorten early voting could not take effect in five counties because the law would reduce the Black vote. According to the Miami Herald, the ruling “raises the prospect that Florida will have two different types of early voting for this year’s crucial presidential election.”

The court’s ruling stated, “Florida is left with nothing to rebut either the testimony of the defendants’ witnesses or the common-sense judgment that a dramatic reduction in the form of voting that is disproportionately used by African-Americans would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot.”

The decision affects five counties -- Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe -- covered by the Voting Rights Act.

The Republican controlled Florida House and Senate cut back the number of early-voting days to 8 from 12 in 2011. In 2008, African Americans cast 22 percent percent of the total early vote, even though Blacks are just 13 percent of Florida’s registered voters. More Blacks voted during the early voting period than on election day or via absentee ballot combined.

During an interview with Rev. Al Sharpton on August 9th, Jim Greer -- who served as chairman of the Republican Party in Florida for three years -- confirmed what many suspected: That the early voting days were cut in an effort to suppress the Black and Latino vote.

“There’s no doubt that what the Republican led legislature in Florida and Governor Scott are trying to do is make sure the Republican party has an advantage in this upcoming election by reducing early voting and putting roadblocks up for potential voters, Latinos, African Americans to register and then to exercise their right to vote,” Greer said. “There’s no doubt. I was in the room. It’s part of the strategy.”


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