Souls to the Polls: Early Voting in Florida in the Shadow of House Bill 1355

Michael C. Herron, Daniel A. Smith
2012 Election Law Journal  
Over the past 30 years an increasing number of American states have made it more convenient for voters to cast early ballots. Despite the rapid diffusion of what is known as early in-person voting and praise for this practice by voting rights advocates and election administrators alike, a new Florida law in 2011 truncated the state's early voting period from a total of 14 days to eight, eliminated early voting on the Sunday immediately preceding Election Day, and reduced the total number of
more » ... total number of hours that early voting polling stations were required to be open. We assess the effects that these changes might have on Florida voting by analyzing early voting patterns from the 2008 General Election in this state. By merging a Florida voter file with county-level records of approximately 2.6 million early voters, we are able not only to identify which types of voters cast early ballots in the run-up to the 2008 General Election, but also to determine the precise days of the two-week early voting period in which various voter types cast their ballots. We find that Democratic, African American, Hispanic, younger, and first-time voters were disproportionately likely to vote early in 2008 and in particular on weekends, including the final Sunday of early voting. We expect these types of voters to be disproportionately affected by the recent changes to Florida's voting laws that altered the practice of early voting across the state. 1
doi:10.1089/elj.2012.0157 fatcat:kp5s2jbzcvdujhdjpclj3lwpm4