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Early Voting War Over as Judge, Citing “Souls to the Polls” Sundays, Refuses Injunction

| September 25, 2012

early voting florida

Vote early, vote often, vote intelligently. (Theresa Thompson)

The war over early voting in Florida ahead of November’s presidential election appeared to wind down Monday, with a federal court refusing to block a portion of the state’s controversial 2011 elections law.

In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan denied a request from Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown and other black voters to issue an injunction to keep the state from reducing the number of early-voting days ahead of the Nov. 6 elections — when Florida could play pivotal roles in deciding which party wins the White House, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House.

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The voters had argued that the changes, which would reduce the number of early-voting days from at least 12 to no more than eight, would disproportionately affect minority voters, who are more likely to take advantage of early voting than white voters.

The state had countered that elections officials were allowed to offer more hours on each of those days, and that the changes applied equally to all voters.

Corrigan relied heavily on evidence that many counties would offer as many as 12 hours a day in early voting and would require some Sunday voting, a potential opening for the “souls to the polls” get-out-the-vote efforts of some black churches.

“Because Florida’s Early Voting Statute allows early voting during non-working hours, as well as voting during the weekend, including one Sunday, voting times which are important to African American voters, as well as to (get out the vote) efforts, the Court cannot find that the 2011 Early Voting Statute denies equal access to the polls,” he wrote.

Brown and others had argued that the Sunday required for early voting, nearly a week-and-a-half before the election, was not as good as the Sunday immediately before Election Day, which some supervisors used for early voting under the old law.

“I had really hoped that the judge would allow counties to restore voting on the Sunday immediately before election day, but at least we will have one Sunday of early voting guaranteed,” Brown said in a statement issued by her office following the ruling.

Brown vowed to hold a pair of voter-registration drives Tuesday and Sunday in an effort to counter what she portrayed as an effort by the GOP to suppress the black vote.

Brown and the voters could still push forward with the remainder of their lawsuit against the changes, but Corrigan’s ruling means he doesn’t believe they have a good chance of winning the case. And the sides aren’t supposed to let him know whether they want to move forward until December — after the elections.

Corrigan’s order comes a few days after state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and a pair of voting-rights organizations abandoned an administrative case challenging the implementation of the law in 62 of the state’s 67 counties. That fight centered over whether Secretary of State Ken Detzner could require some counties to follow the new law while five counties that must gain federal approval for any voting changes held elections under the old law.

But federal officials eventually green-lighted the early voting change, making the challenge moot.

–Brandon Larrabee, News Service of Florida

Early Voting Ruling

3 Responses for “Early Voting War Over as Judge, Citing “Souls to the Polls” Sundays, Refuses Injunction”

  1. Ben Blakely says:

    Thank You Obama, you liar in chief. Obamacare: Families Pay $3000 More for Insurance; Obama Promised $2500 Decrease.

    This is what you get from the socialist liar and deceiver in chief and the regressive democrat party. Nothing but deception, lies, increased taxes, highest poverty in modern U.S. history, cataclysmic crushing federal debt and mindless out of control obama spending and hundreds of BILLIONS of dollars in obama WASTE!

    The cost of health insurance today is more than 50% higher than Obama promised it would be–and the costs are expected to continue to rise as Obamacare is impemented.

  2. Tweedy says:

    another right wing conspiracy….no one cares who is running and if they do they don’t know them….ask Howard Stearn.

    these people are the prime example of a failed liberal progressive mushroom business….keep them in the dark and cover them with bull sh*t.

  3. bd says:

    we wonder if you are a republican. why did we not here this when your commander in chief mr bush got us into 2 wars on a credit card. you are racist. why do you not ask your congress why nothing was done. The racism is unconscionable. i have never seen this in my life time. ask all of the white people spewing out racist rhetoric on the air waves why nothing has been done. Bills that were introduced by republicans and endorsed by the president were suddenly yanked because they did not want to give him any victories. Why is that that the affordable health care bill was challenged only in those states controlled by republican governors and legislatures? Your game is crystal clear. be careful of what you ask for.

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