Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Over objections, state asks court to approve early voting plan

TALLAHASSEE — Florida is asking a federal court to approve eight 12-hour days of early voting in five counties, saying it would not suppress African-American votes in November.

Gov. Rick Scott's administration filed papers with U.S. District Court in Washington, saying 96 hours of early voting, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for eight days, including a Sunday, would meet the Voting Rights Act's requirement that black voters are not harmed.

Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee and Hendry counties agreed to that schedule in an effort to win statewide approval of the new schedule from a panel of three federal judges. Those four counties and Monroe, in the Keys, cannot enact changes to voting without federal approval.

The state acted despite Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer's refusal to join the other four counties in the state's request. Monroe, the fifth county under U.S. oversight, wants 12 days of early voting for eight hours each day, saying that's more convenient for Keys voters.

The court itself suggested the 12-hour schedule as a way for Florida to secure preclearance in the five counties, a process that began last year.

"Having invited Florida to bring such a plan to the court for review, the court should permit this amendment," the state said in court papers.

The judges last week denied the state's petition for preclearance, saying the new law permitted a minimum of 48 hours of early voting that would discourage African-Americans from voting.

Without knowing the counties' early voting plans, the judges said, they could not be sure that blacks would not face obstacles to voting.

The state's request applies only to the five preclearance counties. Elsewhere, supervisors of election still have the discretion to schedule early voting, from a minimum of 48 hours or six hours a day for eight days to a maximum of 96, or 12 hours a day for eight days.

The new law, unlike the old, requires that early voting be held on one Sunday, Oct. 28.

The Legislature last year adopted the eight-day timetable in place of what was 14 days of early voting, a decision that sparked claims of voter suppression and lawsuits from civil rights and voter advocacy groups and Democrats.

In four of the past five statewide elections, blacks were much more likely than whites to vote early.

Democrats criticized Scott for the state's latest legal move.

Rep. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, the incoming House Democratic leader, said the eight-day, 12-hour plan "fails to give adequate flexibility to meet the real-life needs of voters. … Once more, Gov. Scott is trampling on the rights of Floridians."

Scott spokesman Lane Wright said the new law provides more flexibility by allowing early voting sites to stay open later.

"Early voting is now more flexible than it was before the law changed," Wright said.

Over objections, state asks court to approve early voting plan 08/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, August 23, 2012 10:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Florida Bar revokes former state representative’s law license

    Blogs

    The Florida Bar revoked former state representative Larry Crow’s license in light of allegations that he misappropriated client funds and mishandled an estate case, according to court records.
    A petition filed in the Florida Bar case provides details of the disciplinary charges against Crow, who was elected …

    Larry Crow, a former Republican state representative from Palm Harbor
  2. Emergency crews responding to reports of explosions, deaths at Ariana Grande concert in England

    Public Safety

    Authorities in Manchester, England, say they are responding to an incident in which people were injured and killed during an Ariana Grande concert.

    Authorities in England are responding to a report of explosions and deaths during an Ariana Grande concert. She is shown here in a 2016 photo in Las Vegas. Reports are that the singer was not hurt. (Photo by John Salangsang/Invision/AP, File)
  3. Tampa man driving ATV killed in Gibsonton crash on U.S. 41

    Public Safety

    GIBSONTON — A 24-year-old man driving an all-terrain vehicle died Monday afternoon in a crash on U.S. 41, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  4. Questions about Russia chase Trump during first Israel visit

    World

    JERUSALEM — President Donald Trump solemnly placed a note in the ancient stones of Jerusalem's Western Wall on Monday, sending a signal of solidarity to an ally he's pushing to work harder toward peace with the Palestinians. But his historic gesture- and his enthusiastic embrace of Israel's leader - were shadowed …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after making joint statements, Monday in Jerusalem. [AP photo]
  5. Data breach exposes 469 Social Security numbers, thousands of concealed weapons holders

    Corporate

    Social Security numbers for up to 469 people and information about thousands of concealed weapons holders were exposed in a data breach at Florida the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. The breach, which the agency believes happened about two weeks ago, occurred in an online payments system, spokesperson …

    Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam on Monday that nearly 500 people may have had their Social Security numbers obtained in a data breach in his office.
[Times file photo]