Residents aren’t happy their neighborhood lost its early voting site

Elections officials are setting up sites to prepare for the expected crowds Monday when early voting starts in Jacksonville and across most of Florida. It is expected that a new early voting site at the Prime Osborn Convention Center will be one of the most popular of the 20 sites in Duval County, but is causing a stir with a neighboring Northwest Jacksonville neighborhood.

The Prime Osborn site was relocated from Edward Waters College, which the Duval County supervisor of elections had one of the lowest turnouts in the state, along with the site at Univerity of North Florida, which was also moved this year. It will be at the Deerwood campus of Florida Community College.

People like Schree Gray, who lives near EWC, said moving that site is a problem for voters in that area.

“It’s inconvenient for seniors like me. It needs to be closer so we could vote, because some of us don’t have cars,” Gray said.

Gray’s daughter, April Collins, agrees. She says the move wasn’t well thought out .

“Not only the elderly but the handicap as well,” Collins said.

Pastor Reginald Gundy has been voicing concern about removal of the site. He said it’s hurting black neighborhoods in Jacksonville.

“Absolutely they are being disenfranchised," Gundy said,. “They move the sites to a predominately white area (convention center area). You don’t really take into consideration all of the 6,000 plus people over there. That’s voter suppression and voter(s) disenfranchised and now they got to get on a bus because most people don’t have transportation.”

Hogan said moving the sites from both college campuses was based on more than low turnout, but they are statutory required to geographically locate early voting sites around the county.

"I’m making sure that we have equal access to the vote,” Hogan said Friday morning.

Gundy and other people in Northwest Jacksonville are not buying that response.

“Every time we have a major election, it’s always something,” he said.

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