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A federal court has rejected part of Florida's new election law that would have restricted the number of early voting days across the state. The court said the new law cannot take effect in five counties where the African-American vote could be key in November.

The ruling — which was announced late Thursday — is a win for voting rights groups, who say the new law was meant to suppress minority voters in Florida in the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Courtesy of Between Brackets blog

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is asking the locals to watch out for anyone taking over vacant homes during the Republican National Convention. 

Hotels are booked and authorities say the thousands of protesters will be looking for a place to stay and may become squatters at homes that have been left empty. 

Sherriff's Detective Larry McKinnon says there are at least four red flags for squatters that you should watch for:

1) Numerous people suddenly moving into a vacant home or business.

2) Tents erected within backyards or uncommon areas.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's choice of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate may help energize support from conservative voters who like his tough approach to overhauling the federal budget.

But there's a risk that Ryan may turn off an important voting bloc: senior citizens.

The Tampa Police Department demonstrated for business leaders the equipment and tactics they will use to control protesters at the upcoming Republican National Convention.

Several police officers acted as demonstrators whose actions grew violent.  Their counterparts in uniform then showed how they plan to respond to a riot.  Officers on bicycles formed a barrier, and mounted police corralled protesters until men in riot gear dispersed the crowd with smoke.

Full video below.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

A massive protest bringing together thousands of people from around the country is planned for the streets of downtown Tampa during the first day of the Republican National Convention. A group of organizers met today, and they promise the event will be peaceful.

They call themselves the Coalition to March on the RNC. A handful of organizers came out to Perry Harvey Park, the sliver of green on the outskirts of downtown that will be the starting point for their parade on the convention's first day.

Just like the temperature of a fever stricken patient, Medicare is on the rise as the hottest campaign issue in Florida ever since Paul Ryan was named as Mitt Romney’s running mate.

Bobbie O'Brien

Republicans were decisive when selecting a candidate to run for Hillsborough County Property Appraiser in the general election. State Sen. Ronda Storms handily defeated incumbent Rob Turner who admitted earlier this year to sending pornographic images to a former employee.

Storms crushed the 16-year incumbent property appraiser with 70 percent of the vote. She attributed the win to the voters valuing integrity above all else.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

It's less than two weeks to go before the Republican National Convention invades Tampa. But many people are still unclear about how it will affect those who live and work in and around downtown.  So Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is holding several town hall meetings to alleviate those concerns.

rubio.senate.gov

The speculation is over. Republican National Convention Chairman Reince Priebus announced this morning that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will get the coveted keynote speaking slot. In this press release, Priebus praised the straight-shooting governor as a model of "bold Republican leadership."

Bobbie O'Brien

Mitt Romney campaigned down Florida’s east coast Monday, but in just two weeks he’ll be camped out on west coast for the Republican National Convention in Tampa.

Convention preparations are in full swing at the Tampa Bay Times Forum so much so that the weekly news briefing on their progress was held outside.

But, the RNC director of operations, Ryan Price, described the progress to news media.

Why Plant City, Fla., Is A Can't-Miss On The Campaign Trail

Aug 13, 2012

National political candidates love visiting Plant City, Fla. It's in a swing state, in a swing county.

Here's the above-the-fold headline on Sunday's Miami Herald: "Ryan could hurt Romney in Florida."

Over 21 years, attorney J. Gerald Hebert handled more than 100 civil rights cases as the Justice Department's point man enforcing the Voting Rights Act. Now, he helps governments gain release from the law's central mandate.

At the end of August, the eyes of the political world turn to Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention. It promises to dominate the national and local news in Tampa Bay that week and suck all the political air out of the room.

So if you're the Obama campaign, what do you do? How do you counterprogram Romney-palooza?

Apparently, by buying lots of TV airtime on The Bachelor, Dr. Oz and Rachael Ray.

Romney's VP Pick

Aug 11, 2012

[View the story "Romney's VP Pick" on Storify]Here's what people in the Tampa Bay area have to say about Mitt Romney's running mate choice, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

This Is Tampa

Aug 11, 2012

Some of the sights from this year's RNC host city.

[View the story "This is Tampa" on Storify]

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's newly announced running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has youth and experience. A conservative from a swing state, he has big ideas and the policy chops to back them up.

He also brings a kind of enthusiasm Romney could use: He's a darling of the conservative base that Romney has had a harder time winning over.

Senate candidate Connie Mack IV made a campaign swing through Pinellas and Sarasota counties today.  But while he tried to focus on the November election, questions about Mack's past keep resurfacing.

One of Connie Mack's stops today was at Sayler's Suncoast Water supply store in Pinellas Park. It was part of his campaign to focus on how he would help small businesses that are beset by what he calls a crush of government regulation.

As the presidential election nears, Morning Edition has begun a series of reports from an iconic American corner: First and Main. Several times in the next few months, we'll travel to a battleground state, then to a vital county in each state. In that county, we find a starting point for our visit: First and Main streets, the intersection of politics and real life.

Governor Scott Holds Bill Signing Ceremony in Tampa

Aug 9, 2012

Governor Rick Scott was in town today as a part of his back-to-school tour for a bill signing ceremony.

The bill signing ceremony in Downtown Tampa was spurred by Armwood High School students and a teacher. It won the "ought to be a law" competition and they drafted and presented the bill in Tallahassee.

It allows homeless teens as young as 16 to get birth certificates and social security cards without their parents' or guardians' signatures.

Scott says this bill is meaningful to the community.

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