Students and Voting Rights Activists Demand Early Voting Sites on the Campuses of Jacksonville Schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. On Thursday, student leaders from Edward Waters University (EWU) and the University of North Florida (UNF) delivered hundreds of petitions to the office of Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan to demand that he restore early voting sites to their campuses.

Local advocacy groups joined students and university administrators to call on Hogan to increase access to the ballot for upcoming elections. Despite offering early voting on campus in the 2018 elections, Hogan has resisted community calls to restore essential early voting locations on the campuses of EWU and UNF for the 2020 and 2022 elections.

“It’s more important than ever that places like Duval County have more early voting options, as the state legislature has created countless obstacles for voters,” said Sam Coodley, the Florida grassroots manager of All Voting is Local. “Hogan is purposefully denying students and the universities a necessary voting option that is popular with all voters. Voters in Duval County deserve better.”

“An early voting site helps us demonstrate the importance of voting to our students,” said Dr. Tameka Hobbs, the executive director of the A. Philip Randolph Institute at Edward Waters University. “The campus has several facilities that are jointly-owned or managed by the City of Jacksonville, so they qualify as sites and there is no legal reason why we cannot serve in that capacity. We will continue to appeal to Mr. Hogan to reconsider his decision in light of these factors.” 

“Voting is the fundamental right upon which our republic was built, but Mike Hogan seeks to turn that right into a privilege,” said UNF student government member Drew Breedlove. “If Hogan is committed to the ideals of free and fair democratic elections, he must reopen the early voting sites at the University of North Florida and Edward Waters University.” 

“With obvious encroachments on student voting locations based upon perceived political apathy, student advocacy in restoring these locations is especially instrumental,” said Travis Ford, the chief justice of the UNF student government. “My hope is that in receiving these petitions, Supervisor Hogan agrees to meet with us so he can demonstrate to students that their voice matters.”

“It should not take hundreds of signatures for Supervisor Hogan to grant an audience to his constituents,” said Marcia Ellison, a community advocate from Jacksonville’s New Town neighborhood. “Not having early voting on Edward Waters University impacts not only students, but the many elderly residents who live in the surrounding area. We ask Supervisor Hogan to meet with us and explain how he plans to provide equitable voting access to our communities.”