Following a hearing in federal court this morning over her request that the court court require additional early voting days and hours throughout Florida, Congresswoman Corrine Brown issued the following statement:
"I felt this case was in good hands with Judge Corrigan this morning. I have no idea how he will rule, but his questions showed that he was very well prepared and would be fair to all sides. The judge asked if we would be willing to accept a guarantee of 96 hours of early voting statewide and I am open to that idea. Unfortunately, the Secretary of State essentially refused to tell the judge whether they would consider a settlement.
"I brought this case to help all Floridians recover the opportunity to vote early that they enjoyed for the last eight years. I still have not heard any legitimate reason for making voting more inconvenient. Our own Supervisor of Elections in Duval County, Jerry Holland, a Republican, testified that early voting does not lead to fraud and shortening early voting will not save any money. Election officials recognize that cutting hours will increase the lines.
"In fact, more than half the counties in Florida, including Duval, will offer 96 hours over eight days -- the maximum under the law -- because they understand the value for all voters. Several counties in my district may only offer the minimum of six hours per day. I believe voters will be confused by conflicting rules in neighboring jurisdictions.
"As you know, early voting has become especially valuable to African Americans. In 2008, 54% of African American voters in Florida used early voting -- twice the rate of white voters. In Duval County 58% of African Americans voted early in 2008. In last year's local elections, African Americans cast roughly 34% of the early votes, even though they are less than 30% of the population. We should be making it easier to vote and there's no reason for these changes, except voter suppression."
Judge Corrigan advised the parties that he would issue a ruling as soon as possible.