Advocacy groups call for return of campus early voting at EWU, UNF

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Members of several Jacksonville-area advocacy groups gathered Thursday afternoon at the steps of the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office for a “Let Duval Vote” rally.

Their goal is to persuade Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan to restore early voting on the campuses of the University of North Florida and Edward Waters University.

Prior to the start of the rally, 636 petitions were dropped off at the office — with hundreds more expected to be delivered in the coming days.

“Edward Waters University is eager to have its early voting site restored. Not only for its campus, but its surrounding community,” one woman at the rally said.

“We need this early site for our seniors. They’re not able to walk great distances,” another demonstrator said.

Hogan was not there to accept those petitions, but he knew they were coming.

The supervisor of elections told News4JAX that back in 2018, he allowed early voting at UNF and EWU as a test run to see if it would actually bring in a large number of early voters, but he says it didn’t. So, he said he canceled early voting at those locations and set up early voting at the Prime Osborn Center, which is a mile from EWU.

He also said there were early voting locations with better turnouts near UNF.

But those who attended the rally said that based on their research, there was a large demand by UNF students to bring back early voting at that campus and a large demand by students and the residential area around EWU to bring back early voting at that location as well.

“These petitions represent not only the students and faculty of UNF and Edward Waters, but also the communities of Newtown and College Gardens,” said rally organizer Sam Coodley. “The communities that surround these sites who benefit from them continue to exist.”

Those who attended the rally said they’re asking Hogan to consider making the change, and if he doesn’t, to educate the public on where new early voting sites will be established.

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