Poll workers began their final push Friday to prepare Hillsborough County for Monday when early voting begins.
But one county over in Pinellas, there’s still a full week before voters begin casting ballots in the state primary. The reason for the disparity is the new election law.
In 2011, Florida lawmakers voted to cut the number of days in early voting in half, they say to prevent fraud. But the change can only apply in 62 counties, because the other five are under the supervision of the feds for past voting rights violations.
Voters in Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe Counties will continue to have two full weeks of early voting, as a judge decides whether or not the new law violates The Voting Rights Act.
“It’s really frustrating to see early voting treated in this manner,” said Ion Sancho.
Ion Sancho, the Leon County Supervisor of Elections, dismisses arguments that the change in early voting was needed to prevent fraud.
“In the past 10 years, there’s not one case of an illegal vote cast in early voting,” said Sancho.
Other opponents, point to the Doonesbury cartoons comparing new state voter laws to Jim Crow. Their claim, minorities are more likely to vote early so cutting the days, cuts their vote.
Chris Cate with the Florida Division of Elections disagrees.
“Any voter who wants to vote early is going to have ample time to do so. Voters are going to have more than a week to vote early which includes more weekend hours than ever before,” said Cate.
As the debate rages on, a Florida congresswoman is asking a federal judge to nix the new law and give every Floridians two weeks of early voting.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown’s lawsuit is separate from the current lawsuit underway that challenges the entire law. Next week Brown is expected to ask the judge for an emergency ruling so there is a decision before the General Election in November.