MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Early voting began in Monroe County Monday thanks to the confluence of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and election law changes passed during the 2011 legislative session.

Under the Voting Rights Act, any state or county with a history of racial discrimination must have clearance from the federal government before changing any election laws.

Five Florida counties fall under the Voting Rights Act purview: Hillsborough, Collier, Hardee, Hendry, and Monroe.

Florida can’t fully implement the new election laws until the federal government approves the measures won’t disenfranchise minorities and other groups.

While Florida fights before federal judges in Washington to have the process approved, the state must hold its primary election January 31 after it was moved up to that date by the Florida legislature.

Secretary of State Kurt Browning decided to run the primaries under two sets of rules; one for the Voting Rights counties, and one for the other 62 counties in the state. according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.

So, Monroe County will operate under the rules from 2010 and allow early voting to start Monday.

According to the Herald, more than 19,000 registered Republicans can start to vote for their candidates Monday in addition to a half-cent sales tax for school funding.

Voters in Monroe County can vote at the following locations from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday:

Supervisor of Elections Offices:
530 Whitehead St #101, Key West
490 63rd Street, Ocean #130, Marathon
102050 Overseas Hwy #137, Key Largo

Public Libraries:
Big Pine Key Library located in the Winn Dixie Plaza 213 Key Deer Blvd.
Islamorada Branch Library, U.S. Hwy. 1, MM. 81.7 Islamorada

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