Election 2012

Judge Rejects Cut in Early Voting Rules in Florida

Says reducing days of early voting discourages African-Americans.

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Florida's decision to reduce the days of early voting discourages African-Americans from voting and cannot take effect in Hillsborough and four other counties in the November election, a panel of judges ruled late Thursday.

The long-awaited decision strikes down changes to early voting in those counties as part of an overhaul of the election laws that has been under steady legal and political assault since it passed the Legislature and was signed into law last year by Gov. Rick Scott.

"The state has failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority voters," the judges wrote, adding that a shorter early voting period is "analogous to closing polling places in disproportionately African-American precincts."