All Voting is Local,  Advocates Urge Florida to Expand Early Voting Amid COVID-19 

TALLAHASSEE — All Voting is Local Florida and leading election experts today called on Florida officials to make vital reforms to expand early voting hours, locations, and access for Floridians. 

In a telephone press briefing, the panel discussed the urgent need for expanding early voting in Florida, including every county implementing the maximum number of hours and days allowed by state law, ensuring historically disenfranchised communities have equal access to early vote sites and establishing ways to keep Floridians safe as they vote early.

“In the midst of this pandemic, every election official in Florida, from the governor to the county supervisor of elections, has a moral and professional obligation to personally ensure that Floridians have equal access to early voting,” said Brad Ashwell, Florida State Director, All Voting is Local. “Giving every Floridian multiple options to cast their ballot will ensure that they can exercise their democratic right to vote while protecting their own health and that of their community.”

“Governor DeSantis’s efforts to force Florida’s citizens to vote on election day is ill-considered and ill-advised in an in-person voting environment requiring safe social distancing for both voters and election workers,” said Ion Sancho, Former Supervisor of Elections for Leon County. “Use early voting to spread voting across three weeks, it’s the safest course of action for Florida’s citizens and election workers.”

“COVID-19 will severely disrupt elections in Florida and around the country,” said Jonathan Diaz, legal counsel, voting rights, at Campaign Legal Center. “The state must prepare now to accommodate voters so they can vote early and reduce crowding at in-person voting locations on election day. Spacing out voting days is a tried and true method of expanding ballot access in Florida, and more early voting days will only make in-person voting safer.”

“Students already face considerable barriers to voting, and each time they encounter a barrier, they are less likely to vote again,” said Chadwick Leonard,  Florida State Director, Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project.

“Prior to COVID-19, voting access in Florida was inequitable and inconsistent. How easy it is for a citizen to vote, and have their vote counted, has largely depended on their age, race, zip code, and how much free time they have,” said Kirk Bailey, Political Director, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida. “Many of the struggles facing election administrators during this public health crisis seem unprecedented, but they represent an opportunity to refine local policies and practices to ensure every Floridian has the opportunity to cast a ballot.”

Voters across the country will be headed to the polls this fall amid a global health pandemic and expanding in-person early voting days and hours is one clear, easy step to ensuring a smoother election season,” said Safia Malin, Outreach Paralegal, Voting Rights, Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund

A recording of the briefing can be found here