Voting Rights in Hillsborough County, as I’ve blogged before, are still covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
As such, voters in Hillsborough are granted federal protections that neighboring voters in Pinellas County are not afforded. These distinctions have recently come into question with the Florida legislature’s passage of the Republican-sponsored voter suppression bill, HB 1355, and the US Justice Department’s refusal thus far to “pre-clear” all of the legislation.
Since Pinellas County residents are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Right Act, under HB 1355, they might have a harder time registering to vote, casting an early ballot, and moving within the county prior to election day than a neighbor living in Hillsborough County. For example, if a registered Tampa Republican who moves within Hillsborough County prior to Jan 31 presidential primary may still cast a valid ballot, but a similar St. Pete resident who moves within Pinellas County must file a provisional ballot. As we know, a fraction of all provisional ballots that are cast are actually counted.
Is this fair? Will some Republicans in Florida become disenfranschised or have a more difficult time casting a ballot because of HB 1355? The National Journal has more, here.