TALLAHASSEE, Fla. â€” Twelve years after Florida decided the 2000 presidential election, one of the nation’s biggest swing states is confronting a legal and political quandary over its voting standards.
A federal court in Washington D.C., ruled late Thursday that new restrictions on early voting passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature cannot take effect in five counties covered by federal voting laws.
The ruling â€” which said the changes could hurt participation by blacks â€” raises the prospect of having longer early-voting periods in places such Tampa than in urban areas such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Much of the legal wrangling during the chaotic 2000 presidential election recount centered on the different standards used for reviewing ballots.
By GARY FINEOUT Associated Press
Some voting groups â€” and Democratic politicians â€” called on Republican Gov. Rick Scott to immediately force all counties to impose the same time period for early voting. The law passed last year kept the maximum total hours of early voting hours the same, but it reduced the days in which early voting was available.
“If nothing changes we will now have two sets of voting rules in Florida on Election Day,” said U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton. “One would think that when a court rules that the constitutional rights of a minority group will be in serious jeopardy that the governor would immediately step in to protect the rights of the citizens.”
The Scott administration on Friday was still reviewing the 119-page ruling.
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