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Rick Scott signs election bill

Early voters wait to cast ballots at the Pinellas County Courthouse in downtown Clearwater during the 2008 presidential election (Douglas. R. Clifford | Times)

Gov. Rick Scott today signed the controversial elections bill, HB 1355. The press release did not offer an explanation or reasoning about why Scott supports the bill.

The bill has generated thousands of phone calls and e-mails to Scott's office, nearly all in opposition. It's inspired one lawsuit in Miami and could bring another from Democrats in Congress.

Meanwhile, here are some of the key items in the new law, which takes effect today:

* Early voting is reduced from 15 days to eight days, but the total number of early voting hours will stay at 96; no additional early voting sites.

* Voters who have moved or changed their name since the last election can only update their status at the polls if they have moved within the same county. All others must cast provisional ballots.

* Third-party groups that register new voters must submit forms within 48 hours or face fines of up to $1,000.

* A nine-member panel will choose the date of Florida's 2012 presidential preference primary to maximize the state's influence in selecting the Republican nominee.

* The 2012 primary election will be on Aug. 14, two weeks earlier than usual.

Posted by Michael C Bender at 1:55:33 pm on May 19, 2011

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