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Fact-Checking the Governor on Early Voting Laws


The governor of Florida got a dressing down from the Attorney General of the United States recently.

In a letter to Rick Scott late last month, Attorney General Eric Holder warned Scott that he's "carefully monitoring" voter access in the state.

Holder wrote that he is "deeply disturbed that during your tenure, your state has repeatedly added barriers to voting and restricted access to the polls."

One thing cited by Holder was 2011 changes in state law that "significantly narrowed the early voting window."

Scott said that's not true and pointed an accusing finger back at Holder saying, "Attorney General Eric Holders' own Justice Department precleared the voting changes in the 2011 law about early voting in Florida."

"We rated this one half-true," said Josh Gillin of PolitiFact Florida. "That's because, yes, the Justice Department did, but only after certain things happened. When they shrunk those early voting hours in 2011, there was a problem with the Voting Right Act. That said that in counties were there was past discrimination, and there were five in Florida,  you had to preclear voting changes like that. The Justice Department asked a three judge panel to rule on this and they said you can't diminish the number of voting hours unless you allow those counties to have the maximum number of early voting hours. After the Scott administration got that warning,  it submitted a new plan with the extended hours in those five counties and the Justice Department removed their objections."

So, Scott's statement is only half true because he left out the details about when the Justice Department cleared the early voting changes and why.

"It would be better if he had said, 'oh yeah, you cleared it after you told us to change it,'" Gillin explained.

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