DC Fed Court Blocks Florida Elimination of Early Voting Days in 5 Voting Rights Act Counties

More on this later…

Here’s a link to the DC court’s decision, and the findings of fact.

But for now, here’s Gary Fineout’s AP story (which has some confused  information gleaned from the decision, as it focuses on Florida’s 5 counties covered by the Voting Rights Act: Florida’s early voting law prior to HB 1355 allowed up to 14 days of early voting (not only 12); HB 1355 reduced the number of days to 8).

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal court on Thursday gave five Florida counties four extra days of early voting in this fall’s elections.

The Republican-controlled Florida legislature last year cut the state’s number of early-voting days to 8 from 12. But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the changes won’t happen in Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe counties, which are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

That section requires election changes to be cleared by federal officials or federal judges. The states covered under Section 5 are mostly in the South and all have a history of discriminating against blacks, American Indians, Asian-Americans, Alaskan Natives or Hispanics.

The three-judge panel said Thursday that the reduction in early voting days in those counties “would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot.” But the 119-page ruling did say there were ways Florida could change its early voting practices that would not adversely impact minority voting rights.

A spokesman for Gov. Rick Scott, who signed the changes into law last year, called that part of the decision “encouraging.”