A panel of federal judges today rejected a request by Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning to expedite a ruling on the lawsuit challenging the state’s changes to its voting laws. Download Fla v USA 55 Order on motion to expedite “We’re disappointed that the court could not accommodate our schedule,” said Browning’s spokesman, Chris Cate. “We look forward to the opportunity for making the case than none of Florida’s election laws are discriminatory.”
The reason the state is pressing the federal government for a quick resolution is the accelerated political calendar. A panel of legislative appointees has set Florida’s presidential preference primary for Jan. 31, 2012, but the last day that people can register to vote to be able to cast ballots in that election will be Jan. 3, 2012. If the legal issues surrounding the election law rewrite aren’t settled by then, the state will be in the awkward position of not having major changes to the laws pre-cleared as they affect five counties: Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe.
From the ACLU’s press release: A decision this afternoon by the Federal District in the District of Columbia denied the state’s request for an expedited schedule to hear whether the state’s Voter Suppression Act complies with the federal Voting Rights Act and can be implemented statewide. The Voter Suppression Act is already being implemented in 62 of Florida’s 67 counties.
In denying the state’s request for a quick hearing and decision, the federal three judge panel cited the state’s own repeated delays in getting the law approved and concurrent decision to move forward the Presidential Primary date to January. The Court cited the state’s three week delay in seeking approval of the changes from the Department of Justice, failure of the state to seek expedited review, removing provisions of the law from DOJ review after 50 of the 60 days had expired, filing in federal court, and amending their filing to challenge the Voting Rights Act as examples that any time pressure for a decision was caused by the state itself.