BY JAMES HARPER
Attorneys for advocacy groups are discussing a response to judges’ findings relating to a lawsuit in which a federal court upheld the U.S. Justice Department’s decision to block reducing the number of early voting days in five of Florida’s 67 counties.
Florida’s 62 other counties are not protected by the provision in the Voting Rights Act cited by the Justice Department.
Opponents of the voting hours reductions are expected to challenge the ruling hoping the court agrees the 62 other counties are not uniform with the rest of the state.
Cynthia Slater, and NAACP Branch president of Daytona Beach, who also serves on the state and national boards of the civil rights organization said it is their goal that the law is blocked in all 67 counties.
Other groups involved include the ACLU and League of Women Voters.
Early voting reduction
The Justice Department and civil rights groups argued that a 2011 Florida law allowing counties to reduce the window for early voting from 96 hours per week to as few as 48 made it more difficult for minorities to vote than whites.
The federal government blocked the rules from taking effect in five counties – Collier, Hendry, Osceola, Polk and Lee – by invoking the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which allows it to veto voting rules changes in certain states and counties with histories of racial repression.
Slater said the ruling has the effect of adding a Sunday to early voting in those counties.
“In the covered counties, historically, they have had 12 days, which included 2 Saturdays, but no Sundays. That would presumably remain true under the current status quo. If the covered counties agree to this change, however, the eight days will include two Saturdays, and one Sunday (the Sunday a week before the election, but not the Sunday immediately prior to Election Day),” Slater said.