August 17, 2012
Yesterday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that Florida failed to prove that its reduction in early voting days would not negatively impact minority voters. As a result, Florida must reinstate the early voting days in five Florida counties covered by federal voting laws. The counties — Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe — are covered by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Project Vote’s Executive Director Michael Slater issued this statement about the ruling:
“Project Vote applauds the court’s decision to deny preclearance of Florida’s early voting changes. This law, like many others in Florida and across the nation, is part of a coordinated and undemocratic effort by some politicians to erect barriers to the ballot box.
“We call on Florida to immediately reinstate the four early voting days that were eliminated by the 2011 law.
“As was well documented by expert testimony, African-American voters are more likely to take advantage of the opportunity to vote before Election Day. The Court rightly ruled that Florida’s restrictions would negatively impact such voters, especially by eliminating voting on the Sunday before Election Day, when African-American congregations at churches traditionally go to vote after services to vote. This kind of communal commitment to voting is vital to our great democracy, and we are pleased the Court removed the barrier to this tradition.
“This decision will allow voters to continue to cast ballots in advance of Election Day, thereby encouraging greater participation and reducing long lines.
“Finally, this ruling exemplifies why the Voting Rights Act was created. It provides a check on states that attempt to interfere with the right of minority voters to participate in our democracy.”