The following article was written by Charlotte County Democratic Party Legislative Liason Teresa Jenkins
The Florida League of Women Voters along with students from the University of Florida and Florida State University are suing Florida’s Secretary of State over a 4-year-old edict banning the use of college buildings as early voting sites.
In 2014, Secretary of State Ken Detzner stated that the University of Florida student union could not be used by Gainesville city officials as an early voting site concluding that Florida law prohibits the use of all college and university buildings for early voting.
However, the lawsuit contends that the ban violates the 1st, 14th, and 26th Amendments and denies equal access to those who live and work on college campuses including young voters. “The result of the secretary’s interpretation of the early vote statute is an unjustifiable burden on the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible Florida voters,” reads the lawsuit. “These burdens fall particularly and disproportionately on the state’s young voters, who are significantly more likely to live on or near Florida’s public colleges and universities and, at the same time, are less likely to have easy, immediate access to reliable transportation to vote early in those communities.”
According to the Sarasota County Supervisor of Elections, the lawsuit could change the number of students who vote. “It’s pretty clear if you put early voting opportunities on college campuses you’re probably going to get more college students to vote,” he said.
Voter suppression by Republicans of Democratic-leaning college students has been occurring over the past decade. We are grateful for those who have filed this lawsuit in federal court. Republicans will continue to do whatever they can get away with to suppress the votes of students in this critical swing state.