JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several lawmakers and area pastors are urging the Supervisor of Elections of Duval County to place early-voting sites on college campuses.
A federal judge ruled July 24 that college campuses can be used as early voting sites. The 18 early voting sites in Duval County currently open for the primary were established and locations published on sample ballots by then, and none were on college campuses.
State Sen. Audrey Gibson, state Rep. Tracy Davis, Pastor R. L. Gundy and others joined students carrying signs outside City Hall Monday afternoon demanding city officials and the Supervisor of Elections to "stop voter suppression of time and location" by complying with the court order to place early voting sites on college and university campuses.
The court order removed the state's ban on opening early voting sites on campuses but did not require it.
"The supervisor of elections got a letter from the League of Women Voters well in a sufficient amount of time to put early voting on these colleges. He refused to do it," Gundy said. "When I talked to him on the phone personally, he said he was not going to put early voting sites on the colleges, and he said if he had the money he was not going to put the early voting sites on the colleges."
Mike Hogan, Duval County's supervisor of elections, said the ruling puts him in a bind because there may not be enough time to get one or more early voting site on a college campus before the election in November.
After the demonstrators came in, Hogan told a standing-room-only group of community leaders and elected officials and one college student that he will do his best to get early voting sites at the University of North Florida and Edwards Waters College open for the November election, but he can’t guarantee it.
"There’s just a lot of logistical things," Hogan said. "We are going to give it a college try -- no pun intended -- but I’m not sure they’re going to be there."
During the demonstration outside, News4Jax attempted to talk to some of the students carrying signs calling for voting sites on campus, but Gundy intervened.
"You don’t want to talk," Gundy told the student. "I want to be the spokesman on the subject."