With early voting in Duval County set to kick off next Saturday, questions around the changes in the laws have come to a boiling point.
Congresswoman Corrine Brown, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Jacksonville, Duval County Democratic Executive Committee and 11 registered voters have filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming the new early voting laws are unconstitutional.
“As long as there is breath in my body, I’m gunna do all I can to make sure the people that I represent have an opportunity to vote,” Brown says.
The changes in question cut back the days of early voting from 15 to 8. Additionally, the Sunday before the election was eliminated. The actual hours of early voting- 96 hours- stays intact.
Because they are maintaining the number of hours , Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland says there may actually be more opportunities for early voting, because the polls will now be open for 12 hour days. This gives voters the opportunity to go before and after work, as well as a greater window on the weekend. In Duval County, weekend voting was only 4 hours per day.
Brown says the extended hours still don’t meet her constituent’s needs. She says the Sunday is one of the bigger problems because it is so close to the election, it is when voters are more fired up.
The attorney for the plaintiffs says they will be pushing for an injunction within a week which would prevent the new changes from taking affect for the August primary. Brown says there are other lawsuits already dealing with these changes, but none seemed like they would resolve before the primary, which is what prompted this Jacksonville suit.
The suit says the changes violate the constitutional rights of African American citizens under the First, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments.