Commissioner Jean Monestime passes resolution urging state to enact uniform early voting
The Board of County Commissioners adopted a resolution this week urging Florida's Governor to apply early voting uniformly across the state and to return early voting to the full 14 possible days of early voting, including the Sunday before election day. The early voting resolution, which was sponsored by Commissioner Jean Monestime, District 2, was approved by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, September 18, 2012.
"The state of Florida must do everything possible to ensure that voters have access to the polls. Early voting extends the opportunity to vote for everyone," Commissioner Monestime said. "Voting should be made easy and convenient."
The resolution was adopted in response to an August 2012 federal court ruling which found that changes made to Florida's early voting law by the State Legislature could disproportionately impact African-Americans. The state law, known as HB 1355, reduced early voting days from a maximum of 14 days to 8 days and eliminated early voting on Sunday before election day. The court found that African-American voters disproportionately used the first five days of the previous early voting period, all of which were eliminated under HB 1355. The federal court ruling applied to five counties, Collier County, Hardee County, Hendry County, Hillsborough County and Monroe County, which are all subject to the preclearance requirements of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
"There seems to be a push at the state level to curtail early voting," Commissioner Monestime said. "The state needs to return to an extended, uniform schedule of early voting to allow everyone the maximum amount of time to vote."