Decision In Early Voting Lawsuit Expected Soon

Sep 21, 2012

A debate over Florida’s early voting schedule is continuing in federal court.  A Florida Congresswoman claims the State’s new early voting times could keep black voters from getting to the polls.

With less than 50 days until the Presidential election a lawsuit filed by United States Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Jacksonville aims to restore Florida’s early voting to it’s old timetable. That would make early voting five days longer like it used to be prior to Florida’s 2011 election law.  Brown claims the law is unconstitutional and discriminatory because most African American habitually vote early.  She said the changes in the law are a purely political move.

“Without a question, it was only done to stifle African American votes, that’s the reason, and you know that is very unfortunate, because we travel around the world trying to teach democracy, it’s a mockery on democracy that you would go to any extent to try to win an election!” Brown said.

Congresswoman Brown’s case took a hit earlier this month when the Federal Department of Justice approved the law for use in five Florida counties with a history of voter discrimination. The Florida Department of State said the law actually gives more flexibility so people can vote before and after work. The Department spokesman, Chris Cate, said the law is not discriminatory: 

“Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, we’ve already been for the majority of the state using the new early voting hours, for the Presidential primary we had in January, and the most recent primary we had in August, and the turn out we saw for early voting actually exceeded previous years.” Cate said.

The changes, enacted by Governor Scott, kept the polls open the same number of hours as before, but cut down on the days the polls stay open from 15 days to 10.  The United States District Court in Jacksonville heard arguments in the case on Thursday and a decision is expected soon.