JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Local pastors, community leaders, and educators held a news conference Tuesday morning outside the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office, calling on its leader -- Mike Hogan -- to make voting more accessible during the coronavirus pandemic
Pastor R.L. Gundy and other community leaders said they’ve been requesting the changes for two years, pleading with Hogan to prioritize voter accessibility in every Jacksonville neighborhood.
“We join fellow stakeholders this morning asking Mr. Hogan to send each and every registered voter a vote by mail application and provide them with information on how to vote by mail -- to include signature update and how to return that ballot via mail, at early locations, and how to track their ballot,” said Lanelle Phillmon, vice president of the League of Woman Voters of Jacksonville.
Community leaders are also asking Hogan’s office to:
- Provide outdoor drop box locations with drive-thru options for returning ballots
- Provide early voting locations on the campuses of Edward Waters College and the University of North Florida
- And place the early voting site in the gym at Edward Waters College for safety and parking
The group plans to continue demonstrating in front of the Supervisor of Elections Office and threatened legal action if their requests are denied.
“We need to go back to the same federal judge that ordered the early voting sites and let him take a look at what they’ve been doing the last 16 years to suppress voters in Duval County,” Gundy said.
Hogan told News4Jax his office will not be sending vote by mail applications to every registered voter because his office already mailed voter information cards to more than 260,000 Duval County residents.
“If we did what this other group was talking about, that means we would be sending out another 630,000 voter application forms, which would be duplicating our earlier order, and it would be confusing to the voter,” Hogan said. “And the big deal -- it would cost half a million dollars for printing and mailing.”
Hogan said his office IS planning on setting up drive-thru drop boxes at 20 early voting sites, and he’s opening two new voting sites at the FSCJ Deerwood Center on the Southside and at the Prime Osborn Convention Center downtown.
“That’s only a mile and a half away from Edward Waters College, and directly across the street from the JTA hub,” Hogan said. “Every bus in town goes to that hub, so voters will have greater access to that area.”
Hogan said plans are also in the works to use TIAA Bank Field as an early voting site. An event is being planned, in coordination with the Jaguars, where voters can drive up to the stadium to cast their ballots.