Florida’s Early Voting Period is Reduced from 96 to 48 Hours under HB1355

According to a story in USA Today, Chris Cate, the director of communications for the Florida Department of State, continues to misinform the public about the total hours of early in-person (EIP) voting hours that are required under HB1355.  He claims that although the number of days has been shortened, the number of EIP voting hours  remains the same, and says that there is no systematic attempt to suppress any group of voters.

Yet, as Politifact has documented, that claim regarding the total number of EIP voting hours under HB1355 is “Mostly False.”

In fact, the total number of early in-person voting hours that county Supervisors of Elections must remain open under HB1355 has been cut in half.

In addition to putting restrictions on voter registration drives, the casting of provisional ballots, and several other voting and elections issues, HB1355 shortened the window of EIP voting from 15 to eight days. Under the new law, county Supervisors of Elections have the discretion to offer between six and 12 hours of early voting each day—amounting to a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 96 hours.

Early voting under HB1355 is to commence on a Saturday, 10 days prior to Election Day, and must end on a Saturday, three days prior to Election Day. Most notably, HB1355 prohibits county election supervisors from offering EIP on the Sunday immediately before the election. In the 2008 general election, 10 Supervisors of Elections—including some of the state’s most populated and racially and ethnically diverse counties—offered EIP on the Sunday immediately prior to Election Day.

In short, HB1355 has reduced the number of EIP voting days, has cut in half the required number of EIP voting hours, and has eliminated EIP voting on the final Sunday before Election Day.