Jacksonville, FL — There will be early voting for the November election at both the University of North Florida and Edward Waters College.
Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan sent an email to the City Council late Sunday night, to say he would be able to open those locations. The email obtained by WOKV says both sites will be open to all eligible voters, and will mean Duval County overall has 20 early voting sites for the November election.
Councilman Garrett Dennis had been leading the charge to use the campuses for early voting, since a recent court ruling allowed colleges to be used for early voting sites.
“It’s important to give access to everyone,” Dennis says.
The ruling allowed for using campuses, but did not require it, and Hogan has previously said it would be very logistically challenging to execute that in time for November, because they were also dealing with the August Primary Election at the same time. He nonetheless told the Council he would try to get those up and running.
Hogan's email now confirms it will happen, and he will not seek additional funding.
“You don’t care who they vote for, just as long as they have the access to cast a ballot,” Dennis says.
Dennis previously worked in the Elections Office, and he says he is excited to see the turn-around.
While critics questioned how many students would actually seek out early voting opportunities, and how many would instead use absentee ballots. Dennis says this will offer students the opportunity to change their addresses to vote in local elections that matter to where they are currently living at the colleges- as opposed to where their family and home is, if that’s in another county. He thinks this is a good step, but hopes the Supervisor will take even further steps to boost engagement.
“It’s all about getting students engaged, and really, getting citizens engaged in the electoral process,” he says.
Hogan says he is doing that, and his office has been at UNF for several weeks offering registration and vote-by-mail assistance.
An early voting site was not sought for Jacksonville University, because there is one in close proximity to the campus already.
Hogan tells WOKV his office had to wait to see how a lawsuit dealing with Spanish-language ballots and 32 counties- including Duval- resolved, before committing to the additional early voting sites. He says, had the judge ruled in a different way, their resources would have been too spread to commit to these sites.
“We never stopped working on the thought or the idea. There was some community interest in it,” he says.
Especially for this election, where Hogan says the ballot is so long because of all of the amendments, he thinks more early voting opportunities are a win-win.
“We’re wanting to help the voters and ourselves get through the process a little quicker, so we’re gunna really push early voting, as well as mail ballot voting, so there won’t be any long lines on November 6th,” he says.
Overall, Hogan says their preparation for the election is coming together, and he looks forward to a great start to early voting on October 22nd.