Voting Rights Groups Applaud Florida Election Officials for Providing Student-Accessible Voting, Urge Additional Early Voting Sites on Campuses

August 31, 2018
Contact: Kelly Brewington, [email protected], 202.548.7159

The League of Women Voters of Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, All Voting is Local Florida, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund ask county Supervisors of Elections to follow the example of officials who have made it top priority to establish early voting on some college campuses in Alachua, Hillsborough, Leon, and Orange counties.

In July, a federal court ruled that a ban placed on early voting sites on Florida campuses was unconstitutional and put an unfair burden on college students. Since then, the League of Women Voters and other voting rights groups have called on Florida Supervisors of Elections to ensure that college students are able to access the vote by placing early voting sites on campus. But several colleges including those serving large populations of students of color — Florida A&M University, Florida International University, and Miami Dade College — are without early voting sites two months before the General Election.

With several counties reporting record turnout in this week’s primary, Floridians of all ages and political persuasions will be eager to use their voice and vote this November.

Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters, stated, “We are aware of the logistical challenges that the timing of Judge Walker’s decision presented. This is not only a testament to our Supervisors’ dedication to safe and secure elections, but also their desire to ensure equitable and fair access to the polls for all Florida voters.”

“Early voting sites on campuses ensure that every voter has their voice heard, regardless of where they live, work or go to class,” said Dan Horton, Florida state director for All Voting is Local. “The court said the ban on early voting sites only made it harder for students to get to the polls. Without early voting locations, hundreds of thousands of Florida students, particularly those from historically disenfranchised communities, face unnecessary obstacles to exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

Leah Aden, Deputy Director of Litigation at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, similarly urged additional counties to establish early voting, particularly on historically Black colleges and university campuses, stating, “Historically Black colleges and universities are treasured because they prepare young people to contribute to our nation. Officials should ensure that students attending HBCUs have opportunities to vote for representatives who speak to their self-interests in affordable and safe educations, jobs that pay livable wages, and unbiased policing. Early voting affords such opportunities, alleviating the burdens of navigating long lines on traditional Election Days, and accounting for student voters’ school and work obligations and transportation limitations.”

Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, called on additional counties to follow Hillsborough and others, and said, “We truly hope that the Supervisors of Elections in Miami-Dade, Duval, and Escambia counties will reconsider their decisions to refuse campus early voting in their respective counties. To do otherwise would send an unfortunate message to the young people of Florida that their vote — their voice — is not respected by the very agencies entrusted to protect it.”