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Ballot boxing

Need to Know’s Rick Karr reports on controversial changes to election rules in the battleground state of Florida — will these policies root out voter fraud or keep legitimate voters from the polls?

Last year the Florida legislature passed controversial H.B. 1355 , one of a number of new voting-related statutes on state law books this election cycle. Among the bill’s 80 changes to the voting rules:

  • A provision making it more difficult to register voters (since been struck down by the courts)
  • Changes to a long-standing rule that let voters change their addresses at the polls
  • Cuts the number of early voting days, including the last Sunday before the Election, which in previous years was the day predominantly black churches did “Souls to the Polls” events.

Need to Know’s report also addresses a change to voter rights for ex-felons made last year by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Florida is one of just four states that prohibit all ex-felons from voting unless they have had their rights restored by a clemency board. The new rule requires them to wait five to seven years before they can even apply for the right to cast a ballot.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University recently published a study which found that more than 5 million people could be affected by new rules. Some new measures have been quashed and some upheld — check the Center’s update for details. The National Association of State Legislatures maintains an up-to-date interactive map on voter ID requirements.

More about recent changes to voter law:

Ask the experts: Voter ID

As the presidential campaigns wind down and voting begins in earnest in less than two weeks, much of the conversation has turned from polls and debates to the mechanics of voting.

Swing state Florida has toughest ex-felon voting rules in the nation

In this election cycle, one in ten Florida adults — and nearly one in four African Americans — cannot vote because of a prior felony conviction.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.