Could the Florida Legislature's reduction in early voting days backfire on Republicans?

11/04/12 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday

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A worker with the group Election Protection waits to talk with voters outside the West Tampa Library on the first day of early voting.


photo by Seán Kinane/WMNF

Last year the Republican dominated Florida Legislature revised the state's elections law to cut down on the number of early voting days. Critics of the change, like voting rights organizations and groups aligned with the Democratic Party protested, claiming it was an effort by Republicans to limit turnout by minorities and others who tend to vote early and vote Democratic.

Despite the reduction to eight early voting days (early voting ended Saturday), some counties have still seen record early turnout and long lines.

That has prompted the supervisors of elections in some counties to open their offices Sunday and emphasize what they're calling "over-the-counter voting" the Sunday and Monday before Election Day. Voters can go to the offices, request a vote by mail ballot, fill it out, sign it and turn it in to the elections office in person.

It's more common in counties that President Obama won in 2008, such as Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, Orange, Pinellas and Hillsborough.

But not all supervisors of elections are participating. For example, in "red" Hernando County a phone call to the Supervisor of Elections office at 12:30 p.m. Sunday was answered by a recording saying "...our office is currently closed..."

This could have the effect of increasing the turnout of Democratic voters relative to Republicans. That's the opposite of the result the Republican-led Legislature intended, if the critics from voting rights and Democratic-affiliated groups read the lawmakers' motives correctly.

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