The ruling — which was announced late Thursday — is a win for voting rights groups, who say the new law was meant to suppress minority voters in Florida in the Nov. 6 presidential election.
Florida Public Radio’s Trimmel Gomes reports that the ruling affects only the five counties that are covered by the federal Voting Rights Act. Because of a history of discrimination in those areas of the state, Florida must receive Justice Department or federal court approval to change voting laws in those areas.
A three-judge panel said evidence presented in the case clearly shows black voters utilize early voting much more than white voters, as in 2008 when President Obama won Florida. The ruling blocks the new law from affecting these five Florida counties: Monroe, Collier, Hendry, Hardee and Hillsborough.
The law passed by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature had cut the number of early voting days to eight from 12. The federal court ruling reinstates the 12-day early voting period in only the five counties.
The Associated Press reports that the three-judge panel’s decision states:
“In sum, Florida is left with nothing to rebut either the testimony of the defendants’ witnesses or the common-sense judgment that a dramatic reduction in the form of voting that is disproportionately used by African-Americans would make it materially more difficult for some minority voters to cast a ballot.
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