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Some Counties Planning On Even Fewer Hours Of Early Voting

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – More than 30 counties in the state of Florida will not hold the maximum amount of early voting hours, according to Secretary of State Kent Detzner. But, those counties not taking part in full voting hours will not include Broward, Palm Beach, or Miami-Dade.

The Secretary of State's declaration came during a hearing in federal court over a lawsuit filed by U.S. Representative Corrine Brown and civil rights groups. They want the federal judge to block a law that reduces early voting from 14 to eight days.

The Republican-led legislature passed the bill slashing early voting hours and Governor Rick Scott signed it into law last year. Democratic groups, along with civil rights groups, have slammed the decision because early voting has historically skewed towards minorities and Democrats.

The state disputes the claim saying that the same number of hours, 96, will be offered during the reduced early voting days. Those who take part in the full allotment of 96 hours will keep early voting precincts open 12 hours per day over the eight days.

Some of the more than 30 counties Detzner mentioned will curtail voting hours even more. Brevard County said it will hold just 68 hours of early voting over eight days, while Osceola County plans to hold just 91 hours of early voting.

But, the state's biggest counties, like Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach will hold the maximum number of hours. Other counties in the I-4 corridor and Duval County in northeast Florida will also offer 96 hours of early voting. All of the areas have heavier concentrations of Democratic voters.

The Justice Department has agreed to a proposal that called for 96 hours of early voting in the five counties covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act, including Monroe County and Hillsborough County in the Tampa Bay area.

The judge in the case has not given any indication of when a ruling might be issued. But, there are just seven weeks left go before the presidential election, meaning a ruling will likely have to come much sooner than that.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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