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Florida Democratic Party sues in Miami federal court to 'extend voting opportunities'

The Florida Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the wee hours of Sunday morning seeking to somehow extend voting before Election Day.

The lawsuit, filed in Miami federal court, argues that an emergency judge's order is necessary to "extend voting opportunities" before Tuesday, including allowing voters to cast absentee ballots in person at supervisor of elections' offices -- something already allowed under state law. Voters can turn in their ballots through 7 p.m. Tuesday. 

In Miami-Dade, voters can request an absentee ballot in person, and turn it in, between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, and between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday at the elections headquarters at 2700 NW 87th Ave., Doral.

It's unclear exactly what more a court could do at this point. The lawsuit does not ask the court to order all early-voting sites to re-open.

An attorney for the Miami-Dade supervisor of elections' office, one of the parties sued in the case, filed a motion responding to the lawsuit saying the case is moot to the county because it already allows for in-person absentee voting.

According to the lawsuit, "inadequate polling facilities" in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties led to lines in some cases between six and seven hours long -- longer than elsewhere in the state, the lawsuit says.

"The extraordinarily long lines deterred or prevented voters from waiting to vote. Some voters left the polling sites upon learning of the expected wait, and others refused to line up altogether," the lawsuit says. "These long lines and extreme delays unduly and unjustifiably burdened the right to vote."

The lawsuit cites requests made to Gov. Rick Scott to extend voting hours by executive authority. Scott said Thursday night he would not extend the hours, following requests from Democrats and Democratic-leaning groups.

On Friday, Monroe County Elections Supervisor Harry Sawyer Jr., a Republican, sent the governor a letter asking for more hours. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner responded that the reports he was receiving from elections supervisors across the state were positive about early voting.

Scott, a Republican, signed a law last year reducing the number of early-voting days to eight from 14 and eliminating voting on the Sunday before Election Day, which Democrats used to turn out supporters in 2008. The new law guarantees one Sunday of early voting.

The number of maximum hours offered stayed the same on the books, but four years ago, then-Gov. Charlie Crist effectively extended early voting by another 24 hours.

The lawsuit sues Detzner, along with three elections supervisors: Penelope Townsley of Miami-Dade, Brenda Snipes of Broward and Susan Bucher of Palm Beach. The Florida Democratic Party has hired some big-name attorneys: Kendall Coffey, Michael Olin, Bruce Rogow and Seth Miles.

In a statement, party chairman Rod Smith issued a statement blaming the GOP-controlled Legislature for passing the law reducing the number of early-voting days.

"Because of Gov. Scott's refusal to follow precedent and extend early voting hours in the face of unprecedented voter turnout in South Florida, we are requesting in federal court that more Floridians have a meaningful chance to early vote," Smith said.

**The headline on this post has been changed to better reflect what the Florida Democratic Party is asking for in its lawsuit. The lawsuit does not specifically ask for more early-voting hours.

Comments

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ErnestTBass

www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJhx_2TqffE

Idle Libraries?!?

While voters stood waiting to vote for SEVEN HOURS at the Tamarac library, there were many Broward libraries that did not even participate in early voting!!!

The Sunrise Branch Library, the Lauderhill Branch Library, the Lauderdale Lakes Branch Library, and many others could have also offered early voting, but did not.

Why didn’t the Supervisor of Elections expand the number of early voting locations to include all (or nearly all) of the Branch Libraries, especially given the large reduction in early voting hours and the large increase in the number of registered voters?

RandO

Could someone explain why this is a partisan issue? How do Republicans benefit and Democrats lose in this scenario? This seems like a "change the rules at the last minute" to work them into your favor. Those who planned on the rules are caught off guard for having planned?

Play by the rules!

jd

Suck it up and wait....you had 8 days of early voting, could have requested an absentee ballot or could just wait like the rest of us....ridiculous.

G

To RandO: The rules as you cite them have in fact been changed by the Governor to reduce the amount of days for the early vote by half. That is a rule change that has 0 merit. The fact of the matter is that Political Parties know the realities of statistics. They know that Early Voting benefits the Democratic Party since their base consists of hourly wage workers, etc... In addition, the removal of Sunday Early Voting is designed to target the African American Community since again, statistics show this day to be most active in voting for this community. It is not a question planning to play by the rules that are set, it is a matter of why the rules were changed to begin with. What is the justification for restricting the amount of early voting days by half? What is the justification for removing the single most important day for an entire community? What is the justification for refusing to open more polling stations in urban areas? What is the justification for changing the rules that were already in place for countless elections to begin with? All independent party's that have looked into this case acknowledge and have determined that rule changes ushered in under the Scott administration and legislature were designed to curtail the vote for the democratic party. To believe otherwise is simply blind ideology. Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent, we should all be expanding the vote rather than trying to play ideological games to restrict the vote. To think or act as though these voting rules changes were made without consideration of the voting statistics, is pure ignorance or an active cover-up and willing blindfulness to reality because it favors your side of the political battle. I am speaking as a lifelong independent/conservative. I am ashamed at the games being played here in Florida. The restriction of early voting days has nothing to do with vote integrity, but has everything to do with vote suppression. To say otherwise is criminal. I am ashamed of my affiliated party's actions here in Florida. We should be expanding liberty and legal participation, not restricting it and or limiting it.

At the end of the day, Party does not matter, but the people's will is all that matters. If this can be done in florida today against democrats, it can be done tomorrow to Republicans. Forget it can be done, history shows that it will be done. Pandora's Box has been opened here.

william

so as person can early vote for a umber of days, you can also vote via absentee ballott, etc why do you need more time at the last minute. I cast my absentee ballott from the comfort of my home weeks ago. How much easier do you have to make it????

Joel

8 DAYS !! That is plenty of time to vote. Most people will vote Tuesday, that is only ONE day.

This is just a desperation move by the left.

G

Why did it change in the first place? Answer that honestly as an American. Our bravest are fighting and spilling American blood all over the world to expand democracy and the people's right to active role to choose their own political futures and pathways. Why are our duly elected officials doing the opposite here in our own country. Again, absentee ballott statisticlly favors our side here. This is also a known statistic by the 2 dominant parties. It is also known by you as well, to suggest otherwise would be a lie.

Why were the rules changed to begin with is the REAL Question. You know why they were... Stop acting as though you dont. It is not the umber days as you suggest. It is a matter of what was already in place. Why were they changed to begin with?

Arturo Rodriguez

Democrats need to learn to play by the same rules as everyone else. It wasn't that long ago that you could only vote on election day. Eight days and absentee ballots make it so that everyone who wants to vote can.

G

Again, statistics show that our side comes out on election day, where early vote days favor the other side. What was wrong with the Rules that were already in place for early voting days? Why did our side change them to begin with? Again, all your arguments are based on pure party affiliation. It didnt work for us last election as the rules were, so we decide to move the goal post to benfit us???? How is that moral in anyway? Just admit why the rules were changed to begin with! Until you do that, there is no real debate here. Listen, as a conservative, I readily admit that our side changed the rules in an effort to get the desired result of our side winning Florida. It is as simple as that. And, it is simply wrong to do so. Elections should be won or lost fairly, not by rigging the game to restrict votes.... Voter ID Yes, Voter Verify Yes, but this is not any of that. This is pure and simple curtailing the vote. And it is not American. I am not a Republican or Democratic, I am an American!!!!!!

Soflaliving

I witnessed a poll worker slowing the process down yesterday in Palm Beach Gardens when I asked to women at the registration table "Why do you not have anyone infront of you" They both looked at me and said "She won't send us anyone" and pointed to the poll worker at the door telling people WHO to go get their ballot from. This was clearly a RED FLAG. This slowed the voting process down because these people who were there to get people their ballots were NOT ALLOWED to do their job.

The ballot is 8 pages long and many voters did not read the ballot before coming into the voting booth. This is another reason for the delays. Democrats are just tying to cheat like they always do.

Felons Voting = PRISON TIME, Illegals Voting = PRISON TIME, Double Voting = PRISON TIME, Voting in Two States = PRISON TIME, Committing Voter Fraud = PRISON TIME

Stop The Nonsense Democrats. You know you are going to lose because Obama has failed on every level & the American people know it.

G

I would just argue that Republicans need to learn to not change the rules that were already in place because we lost under those rules. How about we just win because our ideas and principles are the right pathway for the country which results in persuading the people of Florida to choose us over the opposition. This clear shinnangan that Governor Scott pulled by changing the rules to bgin with, will only serve to taint any legitimate victory... In your hearts, you know why we changed the rules.... You just refuse to admit that publicly... Thats simple truth

G

I would just argue that Democrats need to learn to not change the rules that were already in place because we lost under those rules. How about we just win because our ideas and principles are the right pathway for the country which results in persuading the people of Florida to choose us over the opposition. This clear shinnangan that the Democratic Party pulled by changing the rules to bgin with, will only serve to taint any legitimate victory... In your hearts, you know why we changed the rules.... You just refuse to admit that publicly... Thats simple truth


Carlos

No one should have to wait 7 hours to have the opportunity to vote in a real voting booth.

It was easier to vote in Iraq.

LesG

Re: Joel

Go back to 3rd grade elementary school and re-learn arithmetic. Thru Fri, approx 40% of FL's regis voters had voted early or by absentee ballot. The estimate for Sat. is that another 5-10% will be added to that. So, it is likely that early votes and absentee ballots have been cast by almost one half of FL's registered voters.

Typical Presidential elections during the past 50 yrs have resulted in between 72-80% of regis voters voting, depending on the state. That's it -- not 100% not 92.5%, not even 85% of registered voters actually vote. Its more like 75%, or 78.5%, or 79,2%, etc.

Using either the lower or higher number of the 72%-80% max of regis. voters voting in Presidential elections, means that MOST -- REPEAT MOST -- of FL's voters who will vote in this Presidential election WILL HAVE ALREADY VOTED FL's BEFORE Tues.

Only somewhere betw 22-30% of FL voters will actually vote on election day. Maybe in the world of right wing fanatic losers, 22%-30% constitutes the word "MOST" -- but in the real world that most of us live in, the word "MOST" applies to the almost 50% who will have voted early or by absentee ballot. The rules in a democracy should be applied to benefit the population of a country or state.

How does making 50% of ALL registered voters wait in line for 3, 4, 5 hrs just in order to vote early benefit anyone? How does forcing people with other responsibilities to leave a 3, 4, 5 hr line, and decreasing the possibility of them voting benefit anyone other than greasy Repub politicians, their clueless robotic followers and their greedy wealthy financial supporters -- who are seeking to restrict and suppress the Democratic Party vote, and votes by minority groups?

Joel -- turn off FOX news and get with the real world.

Anita

Leave to the Democratic party to start crying!!!!!

Robert

Early voting began in Florida in 2004, so it has only been in effect for 8 years and this would be its 3rd presidential election.

Early voting is a creature of statute enacted by the Legislature for the convenience of voters, it is not an entitlement or a right. The number of hours remains the same, but now, instead of the polls being open for half a day over two weeks, they are open for the whole day over one week. Voting early or absentee is a preference and there is no obligation by the state or the counties to provide a particular day or a specific Sunday for early voting. If black voters in the past two presidential elections liked to vote on the second Sunday, there is nothing to prevent them from going on the first Sunday which is available now.

Likewise, Republicans (who apparently prefer absentee voting), could not be heard to complain if the Legislature were to restrict absentee ballots to travelers, the disabled and the military (as it was until 10 years ago).

Elections are not won by lawsuits and complaining. They are won by getting people out to vote, so, instead of running to courts to sue, go and organize voters and take them out to the polls on the available Sunday or help them request absentee ballots.

ladyc

Wouldn't you cry if you planned on voting today, waited hours, then were turned away because the polls closed? I know I would. Many of these people may have to work on Tuesday. Do you think the lines will be any shorter then? What's the harm in allowing everyone to vote? And isn't is suspicious that these 8 hour lines are in the biggest Democratic county in FL?

RSmoke2012

I am glad the Democratic party is doing this. We saw what happened the last time shady republican politics messed with the election...Bush got into office (without the popular vote) and our economy was left to the Obama administration to clean up. Do we want a repeat of history or will we learn from it and ensure it does not repeat itself?

Kh

Does any one know if the Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Election is an elected office?

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