Florida Governor Appears To Threaten County Election Supervisor Who Won’t Reduce Early Voting Days

Posted by | August 26, 2012 17:30 | Filed under: Top Stories

Submitted by Kate Fowler

A statement by Governor Rick Scott seems directed at the Monroe County election supervisor.

Harry Sawyer (pictured), the Republican supervisor in Monroe, said Monday he didn’t support an effort by Secretary of State Ken Detzner to get federal approval for Monroe and four other counties to reduce the number of early-voting days from as many as 14 to eight. Because of a history of racial or language discrimination, those counties must get “preclearance” from the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court for any changes to voting policies.

The Legislature in 2011 passed a law that included reducing the number of early-voting days statewide, but a three-judge federal court last week rejected that change in the preclearance counties. The panel, however, said it could likely approve a reduction in the number of voting days if all five counties agreed to keep offices open for 12 hours on each of the eight days, which would maintain the same number of hours for voting.

But Sawyer believes having more days to vote is more important than having more hours on fewer days. And Democrats view reducing available voting days as an effort to keep blacks from the polls.

“I strongly urge the governor to clarify or retract any remarks that would suggest he would remove the supervisor, who is set to soon retire, for simply carrying out his constitutional duties and responsibilities to voters,” said outgoing House Minority Leader Ron Saunders, D-Key West, who represents Monroe.

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