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Durbin asks Scott to testify at voting-law hearing

Democratic U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois wants Republican Gov. Rick Scott to appear at a Jan. 27 public hearing in Tampa on Florida's new election law. Durbin chairs the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, and he and Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will take testimony at a public hearing in the Hillsborough County Courthouse over a law Durbin calls "particularly troubling."

In a letter to Scott (see below), Durbin questions why Scott and the Florida Legislature reduced early voting from 14 days to 8 (the law also says county election supervisors can hold up to 96 hours of early voting, as before). Durbin asks Scott for "a prompt response (to) identify the steps that your administration will take to ensure that all Floridians who wish to do so can cast their votes during the early voting period."

Durbin questions why the state would prohibit early voting on the Sunday before the election, but as Secretary of State Kurt Browning has pointed out, most counties didn't open their early voting centers on the Sunday before the election even when they could.

The law's most controversial provisions dealing with early voting, provisional ballots and voter registration have not been approved or "pre-cleared" in five counties under federal jurisdiction, including Hillsborough and Monroe.

-- Steve Bousquet