In 2008, with long lines forming at the early voting polls in South Florida, then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist extended early voting hours by four hours daily for six days, or the equivalent of two full extra days.
In math terms, that would look like this: 4 X 6 = 24.
So that meant that, in 2008, the people of South Florida had 120 cumulative hours of early voting because the cumulative hours had been capped at 96.
In math terms, what Crist did looks like this: 96 + 24 = 120.
But you wouldn't know that from looking at the Republican Party of Florida's latest press release designed to give cover to Gov. Rick Scott for his likely refusal to keep the polls open longer this year. RPOF is good at math. It news that more early voting hours = more votes for President Obama.
"Florida has a law in regard to early voting--this law provides for 96 hours of operation for early voting locations," the RPOF statement says, "the exact same amount of hours as 2008."
Not quite. Not exact. Not the same.
It's true that, in 2008 and in 2011, the maximum statutory hours remain the same. But the actual early voting hours are not the same for about a quarter of the early voting electorate: those who live in South Florida's three big counties, Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Duval, Hillsborough and Orange (the number three, four and five early vote counties, respectively) are also majorly affected. Add these six together, and the counties account for about 44 percent of the in-person early vote ballots cast.
But we'll stick to South Florida, where the polls were opened 120 total hours for early voting in 2008. Now it looks like 96. That's a real reduction of 24 hours, or 20 percent relative to 2008.
Here's the math: (120-96)/120=.2/100