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Florida legislature passes bill to extend early voting

The Florida House and Senate [voting records, PDF] both passed a bill (HB 7013) [PDF] on Friday to extend the state's early voting period. The bill revises election law to allow elections supervisors to hold 14 days of early voting [Reuters report] instead of the current maximum amount of eight days. The bill also increases the sites where early voting can be held, permitting election supervisors to use more and larger sites for early voting. In addition, the bill moves the presidential primary to a time that complies with national party rules. The bill addresses long lines and counting delays in Florida [Columbus Dispatch report]. The bill now goes to Florida Governor Rick Scott [official website], who has indicated that he will sign it into law.

Early voting has been a thorny political issue, particularly in the 2012 elections. In September 2012 the US Supreme Court [official website] denied [JURIST report] a stay application in Husted v. Obama for America [docket], and allowed early voting for all Ohio citizens in the three days preceding the November election. President Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Convention (DNC) challenged the law, which restricted early voting to active duty military members, as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause [Cornell LII backgrounder] because of its alleged impact on the voting rights [JURIST backgrounder] of certain groups of voters. Also that month a judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Florida [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that Florida did not have to provide 96 hours of early voting for the November elections.

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