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Extension of Florida's early voting debated in federal court

3:01 PM, Sep 20, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan on Wednesday heard three hours of testimony concerning the need to extend early voting in Florida from eight days to 14.

Congresswoman Corrine Brown, who is one of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit, said when the suit was originally filed in July that the reduction of early voting days "is a deliberate attempt to suppress African-American votes."

During testimony, the importance of voting on the Sunday prior to Election Day was also stressed.

"Keep in mind everybody starts about thinking about voting right before the election. So why are you saying the Sunday before you are prohibited from being able to offer those hours," said Brown on following the hearing in Jacksonville. 

In 2011, the Florida Legislature reduced the number of early voting days from 14 to eight. The new law allows a maximum of 96 hours of early voting and in Duval County. One Sunday is included, but not the Sunday right before the election.

Duval County right now is prepared to offer eight days of early voting, which includes the Sunday nine days prior to the election. Local voters will be afforded 96 hours of early voting during that span. The state allows counties to offer anywhere between 48 and 96 hours of early voting. 

Corrigan said Wednesday he is not prepared to make a decision, but he will do so shortly since the presidential election is 48 days away.

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