Provision of new election law wins federal approval
Gov. Rick Scott's administration announced Wednesday that the U.S. Department of Justice has approved one of four remaining parts of a new election law that must be pre-cleared before implementation in five counties, to ensure that it does not discriminate against racial or language minorities.
The provision that secured federal approval reduces the shelf life of voters' signatures on initiative petitions from four years to two. It also requires that each person who signs a petition give their home address. That was one part of a sweeping elections code rewrite (HB 1355) that has been contentious for the past year, and remains the subject of extensive court litigation.
Three other parts of the law remain under review by a panel of three federal judges in Washington, D.C. Those changes would reduce early voting from 14 days fo eight; require out-of-county voters who have moved since the last election to cast provisional ballots; and require third-party groups that register new voters to submit forms within 48 hours or face fines.
"I am pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has granted preclearance to the section of Florida election law relating to constitutional initiatives," said Secretary of State Ken Detzner, the chief state elections officer. "The approval means the section will now be implemented statewide. Meanwhile, we look forward to proving in federal court that the remaining sections of election law on hold in five Florida counties are also non-discriminatory."
Those five so-called pre-clearance counties are Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry.