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FAMU Seeking Support and Ticket Sales

August 31st, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

The Florida A&M Rattler football team plays its first game this weekend without the presence of the famed band. The Marching 100 have been suspended for at least a year following the hazing death of a drum major, and boosters and the University are trying to put the best face possible on the bands absence.

The FAMU band is often as big a draw as the football team, but band members will be sidelined this year following the hazing death of Drum Major Robert Champion. As players arrived at the airport for a flight to Nashville to play arch rival Tennessee State,
They were greeted by a first ever community rally to support the school and the team.
Cheerleaders shouted a FAMU cheer, while linebacker Brandon Hepburn says it is the teams chance to shine.

“Its an awesome opportunity to be a front runner at our own games” says Hepburn.

“When the dark clouds gather” is how Interim President Larry Robinson began another cheer leading session. University officials and community leaders acknowledged the bands absence makes this season unusual if not challenging.

“We’re not unfamiliar with the notion that they were not going to be there and we’ve gotten ourselves prepared for that,” says Robinson.

Boosters are calling on residents not to be fair weather fans. “Get behind the football team and purchase season tickets” was the request from former Alumni President Alan Williams. Boosters Vice President Selvin Cobb say football ticket sales are important because they fund other sports. “That’s what gonna pay for the tennis team, the volleyball team, the non-revenue sports” says Cobb.

But even with low season ticket sales, attendance averages eighteen thousand
The athletic department says season tickets are on par with where they were last year, but they’ve never really been great, selling between thirty two and thirty five hundred a year”.

The school is hoping an increase in season ticket sales will offset some of those walkups that only came for the band.

The band would have traveled to Nashville for the opening game had they not been suspended. The University and the family of Drum Major Robert Champion recently began negotiations to a settle the lawsuit filed in the drum majors death.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Jeb Praise School Choice, Scolds Unions

August 31st, 2012 by flanews

There’s a battle in Florida over the best way to educate kids. At the Republican National Convention former Governor Jeb Bush told the nation, Florida is on the right path. As Whitney Ray tells us, that path heads in the direction of more charter schools and less funding for traditional public schools.

At the RNC, Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush praised the state’s gains in education.

“In 1999, we were at the bottom of the nation in education. For this past decade this state has been on a path of reform,” said Bush.

1999 is also the year Bush became governor and sparked a battle between the charter school industry and teachers unions. Union Spokesman Mark Pudlow says Bush enacted a grading system to undermined traditional public schools.

“I think he’s changed education and not always for the better,” said Pudlow.

Florida had 125 charter schools when Bush took office. Today there are more than 500.

The charter school boom can be traced back to Bush’s tough grading system and the school voucher program, which allows students to receive scholarships to switch schools.

Now there’s even a yearly celebration of the changes at the state capitol during legislative session. It’s called School Choice Day, and along with the celebration there’s usually a bill to expand the program. This year the bill failed. Bush blames unions.

“You can either help the politically powerful unions of you can help kids,” said Bush.

But unions say the transfer of funds from traditional public schools to charter schools is weakening the entire education system.

“Instead of trying to make sure every public school in Florida is as good as it could possible be, they want to turn it over to business,” said Pudlow.

They believe the underlining goal is to privatize education, with a complex system of for-profit education corporations.

In April the Florida Department of Education released a report showing charter school students perform better than the rest. Union members say the report is flawed because it doesn’t take into account that traditional schools service more low-income kids and students with learning disabilities.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

TB Update

August 31st, 2012 by flanews

The Florida Department of Health says Tuberculosis is not a major public safety threat. Cases of TB are down 25 percent across the state, but an outbreak in Jacksonville, mainly among the homeless, raised concerns earlier this year. Florida’s Surgeon General John Armstrong says the state has it under control.

“The story with tuberculosis in Florida is a success story. We have continued to see reduction in active TB in past years. Last year a 10 percent reduction form the previous year. This year we have 133 fewer cases,” said Armstrong.

Strike teams are in Jacksonville testing people exposed to people with TB.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

State, LWV Claim Victory

August 30th, 2012 by flanews

Both the state and third party voter registration groups are claiming victory tonight over a judge’s decision to permanently ban a 48 hour deadline for turning in voter registration applications. As Whitney Ray tells us, while each side says they won, the state has agreed to pay most of the legal fees.

Back in May, the League of Women Voters celebrated the end of a one year hiatus from voter registration drives.

The league stopped signing up new voters in 2011, citing a new 48 hour deadline on turning in voter applications. The league sued, and a federal judge issued a temporary ban on the deadline. Now the ban is permanent.

“We are just so grateful this is now a permanent injunction,” said Jessica Lowe Minor with the League.

The league is claiming victory, because it now has 10 days to turn in applications, but Chris Cate, a spokesman for the state, is also claiming victory.

“Out of the 80 provisions done last year by the legislature 79 have already been pre-cleared,” said Cate.

Cate says the main focus of this provision of the law was requiring voter groups to register with the state, which the judge upheld when he banished the deadline.

“Now when third party groups collect voter applications they are going to have to identify themselves on these applications,” said Cate.

But the League asks, if the state won, why did they agree to pay nearly 40-thousand dollars of the League’s court costs?

“In our mind that is definitely an indication that this is a victory for us,” said Lowe Minor.

“We came to an agreement with the plaintiffs. It was as much an agreement with our side as it was with them,” said Cate.

Cate accuses the League of pulling a publicity stunt when it stopped registering voters, because the max fine for missing the deadline is a thousand dollars a year.
The League says it’s been registering voters for 72 years and the decision to stop wasn’t made lightly.

A reduction in early voting days is the only provision left that hasn’t been finalized by a judge. The provision cuts the number of days but allows election supervisors to keep the same number of early voting hours. The state is expecting a decision in September.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

Labor Day Travel Campaign

August 29th, 2012 by flanews

We are on the brink of a three day holiday weekend and the state is in damage control. Florida was spared the wrath of Hurricane Isaac and now, as Whitney Ray tells us, Governor Rick Scott is on a mission to let travels know Florida is open for business.

Isaac passed by Florida leaving pockets of flooding and the state mostly intact. As the storm shifted west, Governor Rick Scott began altering his message to fend off another disaster; a Labor Day weekend without travelers.

“I want to make sure everybody knows this weekend Florida will be opened for business. We are going to have a great tourism weekend this weekend. It’s going to be sunny. We are going to have great fishing. Amusement Parks will be open,” said Scott.

AAA doesn’t expect many cancelations. And since Isaac tracked west, calls to their office have picked up.

“It hasn’t put a dent in business at all. People are still traveling,” said Brenda Smith, a spokeswoman with AAA.

With Isaac no longer a threat to Florida, the new problem is what it left in its path. More than 90 percent of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico shut down and gas prices in Florida have shot up.

Statewide the average price of a gallon of gas rose eight cent this past week, and calls to the Attorney General’s price gouging hotline are pouring in.

“We are in the process of reviewing all 124 as they come in. About a third of those have been declared, so far, to be unfounded,” said Attorney General Spokesman John Lucas.

Gas prices are expected to stay high through the next two weeks. The spike will impact tourists driving to Florida, but AAA says it won’t deter travelers from coming, only how much they spend.

Scott traveled to the Florida Keys today as part of his mission to let tourists know the state is ready for visitors.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Isaac Becomes a Hurricane

August 28th, 2012 by flanews

Isaac became a hurricane shortly after noon today. The storm is expected to make landfall in Louisiana overnight and leave Florida mostly unscathed. As Whitney Ray tells us, Governor Rick Scott continues to track Isaac even as it veers west of Florida.

Waiting on orders, these Red Cross trucks from all over the country are idle for now, as volunteers wait for Hurricane Isaac to strike.

“These vehicles we use for mobile feeding for hot meals and bulk distribution,” said Becky Maxwell, a Red Cross Feeding Manager.

Florida may have dodged a bullet. Isaac threatened to wreak havoc on Tampa during the Republican National Convention, before tracking west. Tuesday afternoon, the storm was upgraded to hurricane status.

Isaac ruined Governor Rick Scott’s convention plans. Scott was supposed to speak Monday night, but party leaders held a quick gavel and go session to protect delegates from dangerous travel conditions.

From the Emergency Operation Center Tuesday Scott told reporters he made the right decision.

“The most important thing right now is to keep everybody that lives in our state, everybody whose visiting our state safe and that’s what everybody up here is doing, including me,” said Scott.

While Isaac strengthens, its path continues to veer past Florida, but elements of the storm will still impact the state.

“This afternoon we will have tropical storm force winds through tonight. The concern is flash floods, inland flooding, storm surge; we’re going to get rain,” said Scott.

Palm Beach is experiencing the worst flooding it’s seen in the past 100 years and statewide rain continues to fall, including areas still reeling from damage left by Tropical Storm Debby.

Scott also toured the FEMA Joint Field Office in Tallahassee this afternoon and was briefed on recovery efforts for Florida counties hit by Tropical Storm Debby.

Posted in State News | 1 Comment »

Fewer Students Receiving Scholarships

August 27th, 2012 by flanews

Thousands of Florida college students are back to class today with fewer scholarship dollars to pay for school. Nationwide students receiving scholarships is down 10 percent. As Whitney Ray tells us, the reduction comes as tuition prices continue to rise.

FSU Freshman Derrick Scott wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for hard work and the six scholarships he won.

“There’s a lot of people here who’ve got money and I’m not one of them,” said Derrick.

Without the scholarships Derrick would have stayed in Jacksonville.

“I would have had to take out loans, and therefore I probably would have gone to a community college,” said Derrick.

Derrick’s the exception. According to student loan lender Sallie Mae, the percentage of college students with scholarships fell 10 points last year to 35 percent.

And Florida’s most popular scholarship isn’t immune to the reduction. Enrollment in Bright Futures is down because lawmakers raised the eligibility standards to save money.

Students who receive Bright Futures, like Sophomores Justine Fitzgerald and Haley Huston, are seeing the amount reduced.

“It’s less this year and I think it decreases a little bit every year,” said Fitzgerald.

“It also think about other states and I think we are really privileged as Floridians,” said Huston.

Dr. Ed Moore, President of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, says the decreasing scholarship money and rising tuition prices will force students to take fewer classes.

“Ultimately it will extend the time to degree, which ends up being more costly for everybody. It’s more costly for the state. It’s more costly for the student,” said Moore.

It will also force many students to take on more debt. Nationwide students have borrowed more than a trillion dollars. The average Florida student who borrows to pay for school, graduates with more than 20-thousand dollars in debt.

Posted in State News | 3 Comments »

RFID Tech in Florida

August 24th, 2012 by flanews

There are concerns tonight over how government agencies could use Radio Frequency Identification or RFID tracking devices. RFID chips can hold personal information like your social security number and home address. Some of the chips can be read with scanners from distances of 90 feet. As Whitney Ray tells us, a former state trooper is fighting plans to have the chips placed in Florida Drivers Licenses.

These cows are being injected with Radio Frequency Identification devices also known as RFID chips. The microchips hold information that’s available to anyone with a scanning device. But the technology isn’t just for farmers. People have RFID chips placed in their pets and companies use the technology to track their products.

RFID chips are also in all US passports issued after 2006. The chips hold personal information and even include a photograph and fingerprint.

The technology is supposed to enhance national security by making counterfeits nearly impossible, but RFID is raising concerns about Identity theft. Some scanners can read the chip from distance up to 90 feet.

“It’s not coming in 2013, I can tell you that, because I’m the one who found it in the law,” said Paul Henry a former state trooper.

Henry fought state legislation this year to have RFID placed in Florida drivers licenses on a volunteer basis. Henry says RFID is too easily hacked, plus it could be used to track US Citizens.

“Do we want to have the government knowing where we are at all times?” said Henry.

Florida DMV Director Julie Jones says the devices aren’t intended for keeping tabs on citizens.

“Let’s say we put an RFID chip in every drivers license. It would be hugely difficult to track people. That is obviously not our intent,” said Jones.

Jones says the real goal of the failed legislation was to allow Floridians to cross North America borders quicker. Jones says there are no plans to ask lawmakers to approve RFID in the 2013 legislative session.

You can buy an aluminum wallet or sleeve to block hackers from reading your RFID chip. We have confirmed RFID technology will be used next week at the Republican National Convention. But at this time we still don’t know exactly how it will be used.

Posted in State News | 39 Comments »

Harry Sawyer: Early Voting Warrior

August 23rd, 2012 by flanews

Governor Rick Scott’s entire plan for early voting could be foiled by one headstrong election supervisor. Sixty-six or Florida’s 67 counties have agreed to follow a new state law limiting early voting to eight days. But as Whitney Ray tells us, The Monroe County Election Supervisor wants 12 days of early voting and for now, federal law is on his side.

Thursday morning Governor Rick Scott and the state canvassing board certified the results of last week’s primary.

During the primary, Florida had two systems of voting. Most voters had eight days to cast an early ballot, but five federally protected counties had two weeks. Secretary of State Ken Detzner is pushing for one election system by November.

“Clearly we would like to have uniformity in Florida and that is what we’ve been urging the five preclearance counties to do,” said Detzner.

Early voting was cut to eight days by a 2011 state law, but because of past discrimination in Collier, Hardee, Hendry, Hillsborough and Monroe Counties, the change has to be approved by a federal court.

Last week a three judge panel told the state cutting the number of early voting days would keep some minorities from casting ballots, unless the counties agree to allow 12 hours of voting on each of the eight days.

“Four of them have agreed to do that and I’ll let the court determine what’s in the best interest in the State of Florida based on their decision,” said Detzner

Monroe County Supervisor of Elections Harry Sawyer is the lone hold out. Sawyer says the impact to minority voters is clear.

“We’re talking about a retrogressive act that the state has done in doing this, that it affects minorities. There’s no way to change my mind in a situation like that,” said Sawyer.

Sawyer says he’ll go along with whatever the court decides, but if Monroe is allowed to keep 12 days of early voting, Florida will continue to have two separate election systems, which some lawmakers say is illegal and they’ve already filed a court challenge.

Eight 12 hour days equals 96 hours of early voting, which is the maximum allowed under the new law. Supervisors in the 62 counties not under federal oversight have the option to offer between 48 and 96 hours of early voting.

Posted in State News | 9 Comments »

Isaac’s Path Uncertain

August 23rd, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Rick Scott has cancelled travel plans for Friday so he can stay in the Capital and monitor changes in Tropical Storm Isaac’s development. Scott says the state and planners at the Republican National Convention are prepared for any contingency, but both are hoping for the best.

As the final touches are being put on the convention center where Republicans will hold their national convention starting Monday, governor Rick Scott was being briefed on contingency plans should Isaac become an unwanted guest. No one is suggesting the convention be cancelled. But they are hoping for the best.

“The hope is that, as you follow the track, as it goes over Cuba and hits all that land, and hits Hispaniola, that it will dissipate. So a little bit further west, or dissipate, would be perfect for Florida” says Governor Rick Scott.

Republican National Committee organizers are now full participants in disaster managers conference calls. Should police or other security forces at the convention be pulled away to be storm responders, Scott says there is contingency. “The National guard will be ready for any contingency. So if that happened, the logical backup would be the National Guard”.

Governor Rick Scott had travel plans for Friday, but he has now cleared his schedule to be here just in case he has to cope with any changes in the storm.

Emergency Manager Bryan Koon says the state is prepared no matter where Isaac should impact. “Quite frankly, we’re not sure where its going to go yet, so we don’t want to move resources in the path of the storm. We want to make sure we’re moving out to a safe area” says Koon.

Scott says he still plans to go to the Republican convention Sunday, but that, like Isaac’s track and intensity, is subject to change. Managers expect to have a better idea of if and where the storm will hit over the weekend. Any decisions concerning the Republican National Convention will be made by convention managers in conjunction with local officials.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Isaac an Uninvited Convention Guest

August 22nd, 2012 by flanews

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to become a hurricane and could make landfall near Tampa during next week’s Republican National Convention. As Whitney Ray tells us, it’s a scenario emergency workers in Tallahassee have been preparing for more than a year.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best, it’s the mantra of employees at Florida’s Emergency Operation Center.

It’s so ingrained in their DNA that back in May emergency managers worked a scenario, where a category four hurricane hit Tampa on the second day of the Republican National Convention.

“We have been working on this for a year and a half,” said Division of Emergency Management Director Bryan Koon.

Koon picked the right scenario. A situation similar to the drill is developing. Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to become a hurricane and could make landfall in Florida, although it’s less intense than the storm in the drill.

“It is better to exercise for a stronger storm so that you are prepared for a lesser event when it comes by, but it still could potentially be right now a category one or a category two hurricane when it makes landfall sometime in Florida over the weekend or next week,” said Koon.

Regardless of what happens with Isaac there are already plans in place to go to a level two activation here at the Emergency Operation Center for national security reasons.

A level two activation means, departments and agencies directly involved in the disaster will be in the Emergency Operations Center. Level One means all hands on deck. Koon says the storm may force a level one activation.

“We will likely go a bit earlier depending on the path of the storm,” said Koon.

And if an evacuation is ordered in Tampa, Koon has already worked out an escape plan with the Secret Service for political dignitaries.

Governor Rick Scott released this statement today.

“Although Tropical Storm Isaac is still far from Florida’s shores, we are closely tracking the potential for the storm to impact part or all of the state, including the Tampa Bay region during the Republican National Convention. Florida’s state emergency management team and local emergency teams have been working closely with convention officials and have been planning for this event for more than a year, and the possibility of a hurricane hitting the convention has been part of that planning process.

“I am confident in our preparation, and the decision process in place to ensure the safety of both our residents and visitors during the convention.

“As Florida’s governor, I’m urging everyone across the state to monitor the storm track, and use the next several days to prepare for a potential storm. As we know, storms this far from land are still unpredictable and everyone should be vigilant and prepared.”

Posted in State News | No Comments »

No More Teaching to the Test

August 21st, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Rick Scott and the Republican Party of Florida have a new TV commercial touting increased funding for schools and a pledge to stop teaching to the FCAT, but even educators are unsure what the Governor means.

As millions of kids returned to Florida schools on Monday, Governor Rick Scott and the Republican Party released a new TV spot with a promise. I’ve listened to the frustrations parents and teachers have with the FCAT. Next year we begin improving our testing system. No more teaching to the test” say the ad.

After we watched the video we called the Department of Education to ask them what they Governor meant. Their response? Ask him. So we did.

“They way you to that is you have tests that are no just…they are analytical instead of just asking for some memorization” says Scott.

Scott continued to push the education agenda six blocks from the Capitol, accepting a check from Publix Charities to help kids learn to read.

The FCAT ends in the 2014 school year with or without a push from Rick Scott. That’s when Florida joins 44 other states that have adopted Common core standards. Mark Pudlow of theFlorida Education Association says just changing tests won’t change the testing culture. “It really gives us an opportunity to get everybody together and come up with a good system of evaluating students and teachers. Making sure that we that we’ve raised our standards and that we’ve improved public schools and provided the funding for it”, says Pudlow.

As FCAT is being fazed out, students are also facing more end of course exams that began last year. The Governor provided no specifics on how the test would be changed. The state is in the middle of a 50 million dollar a year, five year contract to implement the FCAT test.

A call to the Foundation for Florida’s Future, Jeb Bush’s organization, for comment, was not returned.

Posted in State News | No Comments »

Mosquito Borne Illnesses

August 21st, 2012 by flanews

Mosquito Borne Illnesses like the West Nile Virus have killed 26 people and sickened seven hundred nationwide this year. As Whitney Ray tells us, 14 people have contracted West Nile in Florida and two counties have been placed under a mosquito borne illness alert.

At this popular park near Florida’s State Capitol, fountains spray in to the air, egrets pluck fish out of the water, and mosquitoes interrupt an otherwise lovely experience.

“It’s horrible. You can’t even sit outside comfortable for 10 minutes without them biting you,” said Porscha McMillan.

Porscha does her best to defend herself.

Reporter: I’m always slapping at them. Do you slap at them?
Porscha: All in my face. Hahahaha.

She covers up when she leaves the house.

“I try to wear quarter length shirts, just to keep them off,” said Porscha.

But in the end, the mosquitoes have their way.

Reporter: When was the last time you were bitten?
Porscha: Last week.
Reporter: So you’re not doing a great job of keeping them away?
Porscha: Not a great job.

It’s a serious matter. Nationwide nearly 30 people have died from mosquito borne illnesses this year. Most of the victims are seniors, infected with the West Nile Virus. In Florida 14 cases of West Nile have been reported.

A mild winter and an increase in rainfall are causing a boom in the mosquito population and that is the basis of the outbreak.

Even though their numbers are growing, the infection rate is on par with last year. The Florida Department of Health is asking people to remove standing water from places like bird baths and old tires… to keep the insects from breeding.

“It’s very important that people go through their yards and empty containers and tires and other items that they might have that have standing water so they contribute to breeding mosquitoes,” said Dr. Carina Blackmore, with the Florida Department of Health.

Two counties, Duval and Escambia are under Mosquito Borne-Illness Alerts, which means multiple cases of West Nile have been reported.

Here are some tips from the Department of Health. Remove standing water from flower pots, buckets and anything else in the yard that holds water. Empty and clean birdbaths and pet bowls twice a week. Wear pants and long sleeve shirts. Use bug spray on everything not covered.

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A Convention After All These Years

August 21st, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

Not since 1972, 40 years ago, has Florida hosted a national political convention, and in 1972 Miami Beach hosted both Democrats and Republicans, something which has not occurred since. Florida was a much different place back then and the convention was much different that what will take place this year.

The Miami Beach Convention Center was host to Republicans the last time they held their convention in Florida. A film from the era showed an excited crowd.

” Convinced of their strength, Republicans nominated Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew for second terms” says the narrator. Florida’s electoral votes were not as important then as now. Ike Seamans was a young television reporter at the time.

“Celebrities filled the town. I mean there were movie stars and hippies and yippies” says Seamans.

“Protestors took their own kind of political acton to make make their views known” boomed the announcer on film.

Viet Nam also made the 72 Convention a hot spot for protest, but the film makes the point that dissidents were tolerated, to a point “Miami Beach allowed the ventilation of different viewpoints which is essential in a democracy”.

Thousands converged on the city. Scott Camil, one of the founders of Viet Nam Veterans against the war was one of 8 people charged with conspiracy to disrupt the convention.

“When we went to the convention, the whole count
ry was protected by the constitution, and you had freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. But now there is a thing called Free Speech Zones,  and I’m a little bewildered why you have to have a free speech zone in a free country” says the Gainesville Eight Anti War Activist.

1972 was the last time both Democrats and Republicans held their conventions in the same city.

Posted in State News | 3 Comments »

NAACP Demands Early Voting Extension

August 20th, 2012 by flanews

Black leaders are calling on Governor Rick Scott tonight to use his executive powers and extend early voting. A controversial 2011 law cuts early voting from 12 days to eight. As Whitney Ray tells us, a federal court issued an opinion last week saying cuts to early voting will keep many African Americans from casting a ballot.

The message was clear at this impromptu gathering in Governor Rick Scott’s office Monday.

“We want him to commit to expanding and increase early voting,” said State Senator Arthenia Joyner.

Joyner, the NAACP and other black leaders demanded a meeting with Scott, to ask him to restore early voting to 12 days. A Scott aide told the crowd, the governor was too busy at the moment, but a future meeting was possible.

“I can’t get you in with the governor right now, but I just wanted to come out and say I’m happy to set something up as soon as I can,” said Jon Costello, Legislative Affairs Director.

The calls to extend early voting come after a three judge panel said cutting early voting from 12 days to eight would hurt black turnout. The judges decided, the state isn’t allowed to scale back early voting in five federally protected counties.

Those counties are Hillsborough, Monroe, Collier, Hardee and Hendry, but the rest of the state will continue to see its early voting days capped at eight, because of a 2011 state law. The NAACP says if Scott doesn’t act people will be waiting in long lines to cast a ballot.

“You look at the lines on Election Day. We at the NAACP are up there all the time watching, because we get to see the long lines. We see the people get disgruntled,” said Dale Landry with the NAACP.

Joyner says there are strong political undertones to the scale back.

“It’s quite obvious that none of this occurred until Barack Obama was elected president,” said Joyner.

Defenders of the new law say it’s needed to prevent voter fraud. They also point out that even though the number of days are cut the number of hours remain the same.

The judges gave the five protected counties the option to host eight days of early voting… as long as the polls were open 12 hours each day… for a total of 96 hours, which is the maximum allowed by the new state law. Reportedly four of the five preclearance counties will opt for the eight day option.

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