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Court won’t allow expedited hearing on new Florida voting rules

A U.S. District Court has denied a request by the state of for an expedited hearing on whether Florida is adhering to the Voting Rights in the five counties requiring federal preclearance.

In a statement today, the Americans Civil Liberties Union of Florida says the court “denied the state’s request for an expedited schedule to hear whether the state’s Voter Suppression Act complies with the federal Voting Rights Act and can be implemented statewide.” The ACLU of Florida is one of the interveners in this case.

The group’s statement says:

In denying the state’s request for a quick hearing and decision, the federal three judge panel cited the state’s own repeated delays in getting the law approved and concurrent decision to move forward the Presidential Primary date to January. The Court cited the state’s three week delay in seeking approval of the changes from the Department of Justice, failure of the state to seek expedited review, removing provisions of the law from DOJ review after 50 of the 60 days had expired, filing in federal court, and amending their filing to challenge the Voting Rights Act as examples that any time pressure for a decision was caused by the state itself.

Moreover, the Court found that the expedited schedule proposed by the state would not afford the federal government and interveners including the ACLU enough time to present their case.

Because Governor Scott and Secretary of State Browning moved ahead to implement the law without waiting for federal approval, one major result of the ruling is that Florida will conduct its January Presidential Preference Primary with two sets of election laws in the state.

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has filed a complaint challenging sections of the Voting Rights Act. He claimed that federal preclearance requirements for state election laws are “unconstitutional.”

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU, said in a statement that “the Court was right to say this is a mess created by the Governor and the Legislature.”

“In denying their request for a ‘drive by hearing’, the Court essentially said that the state’s failure to take this issue seriously until recently is no one’s fault but their own,” he said.

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