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Federal court rejects ‘discriminatory’ voting changes in five Florida counties

A U.S. federal court rules that a 2011 Florida law that permits counties to limit early voting period is discriminatory and burdensome to minorities. The Florida rule is prevented from taking effect in five counties as the federal government invokes the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

However, in the remaining 62 counties in Florida, the early voting window is reduced from 96 hours per week to 48 hours.

“It’s clearly targeting minorities which is why we have and why congress renewed and why we continue to need the voting rights act to prevent state government from interfering with the constitutional rights of minorities,” Baylor Johnson, a member of ACLU of Florida, told WFSU, commenting on the commonality of the tactic in the U.S.

In the District of Columbia, the District Court’s panel said that Florida did not prove that its law was not discriminatory. Florida said in June that the rule would not affect overall turnout.

In fact, minorities tend to take advantage of the early voting period. In 2008 presidential election, more than half of Florida’s black voters voted during the early voting hours.

“We do believe it’s a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the voters,” said state Representative Barbara Watson, according to Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

While opponents of the reduced voting hours rule plan to challenge the regulation in the 62 counties, some minorities try to adapt to the new voting schedule and organize voting trips on weekends.