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Federal Court: Florida's Early Voting Changes Adversely Impacts Minority Voting

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A federal court says a Florida law that restricts the number of early-voting days could result in a dramatic reduction in voting by blacks. When Florida’s Republican controlled Legislature passed a sweeping new elections law last year, the changes couldn’t go into effect in five of Florida’s counties because of a history of voter discrimination. Critics argue the changes not only suppress minority voters but it's causing a lot of confusion.

“Yeah, yeah, I hear it all the time at the beauty shop and other places, because they want to know why,” said Democratic State Senator Arthenia Joyner whose district covers both rules. The U.S. District Court ruled the law which reduces the number of early voting days from 12 to 8, would disproportionately impact African-Americans who typically vote early. 

“It’s clearly targeting minorities which is why we have and why congress renewed and why we continue to need the voting rights act to prevent state government from interfering with the constitutional rights of minorities,” said Baylor Johnson with the ACLU of Florida who contents it's a common tactic around the country.

The ruling means the state could be dealing with two different types of early voting rules for this year’s  presidential election.But the ruling did say there were ways the state could come up with a plan to change early voting that would not adversely impact minority voting rights.