VIDEO: Sen. Bill Nelson Urges Placement of Early Voting Sites on College Campuses As Midterms Near
By Capital Soup // August 22, 2018
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson urges the placement of early voting sites
ABOVE VIDEO: U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) took to the Senate floor to urge the placement of early voting sites on college campuses before the upcoming midterm elections.
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) took to the Senate floor to urge the placement of early voting sites on college campuses before the upcoming midterm elections.
Sen. Nelson’s speech comes on the heels of a recent report that indicates that it’s unlikely the University of North Florida will host an early voting site available to students in time for the upcoming midterm elections, despite a ruling issued by a federal judge in Florida last month that permits early voting sites on college campuses.
“I’m hopeful that the logistical and other issues can be resolved as quickly as possible and that Florida’s universities can host early voting during the general election,” Nelson said.
Sen. Nelson’s speech on the Senate floor:
Sen. Nelson: Mr. President, folks are voting today in Florida. As a matter of fact, they’ve been voting for some now weeks since Florida has started voting, which started a couple of weeks ago, and they’re voting in early voting, a period of time of up to two weeks prior to the August primary, the 28th of August.
They’re voting early in these elections. They’re exercising their most fundamental right, which is to vote. And of course there’s so much at stake for Florida and our country in this year’s elections.
Last month a federal judge in Florida overturned a 2014 ban on early voting, and it was a ban on college campuses. Back in 2014, the legislature passed and the governor signed into law a series of restrictions to make it harder to vote instead of easier. And one of them that was then implemented by the division of elections, secretary of state, was that there could not be a voting place on a college campus.
Well, Mr. President, we have state universities just like other states do that have huge numbers of students. And of course if you want to make it easier for students to vote instead of having to go out in the community, it’s quite logical to have a place for them to vote on the campus. Well, that has been the attempt in the past, was to ban the voting.
And the particular case that I weighed in on a few years ago was they were banning voting from the student union building at the university of Florida in Gainesville, a campus, by the way, that enrolls some multiples of tens of thousands of students.
Well, a federal judge, in a scathing opinion, overturned this ruling, saying that the ban by Florida law was unconstitutional and that it seemed to put in place a prohibition of a geographical location of voting as a means by which to hinder younger voters, specifically students, from casting their ballots.
And because of the judge’s ruling, the federal judge, there now will be an early voting location on the campus of the University of Florida during the general election in this coming November.
But according to press reports, it doesn’t look like that’s going to be the case in all places around Florida’s colleges and universities.
We have just read a newspaper report that Supervisor of Elections in Duval County — that’s Jacksonville — says he might not be able to set up an early voting location on the campus of the university of Florida in time for the general election due to logistical and financial concerns.
Well, I hope now that the federal judge has ruled in this case, making it very clear the judge’s displeasure of not making it convenient for students to vote by refusing to set up a precinct on the location of the college, in this case university campus, I’m hopeful that the logistical and other issues can be resolved as quickly as possible and that Florida’s universities can host early voting during the general election.
Early voting is a key to ensuring access to the ballot for all voters. What we’ve found with the early voting, and now with vote by mail, that increasingly larger percentages of the voting electorate are utilizing that opportunity to vote instead of waiting until the last day, election day, November 6.
Unfortunately we’ve seen some efforts in Florida over the last decade to curb access to early voting, particularly among young, low-income, and minority voters.
We ought to be making it easier to vote, not harder. And I hope in all of the multiplicity of universities and colleges all around Florida that the supervisors of election will pay attention to the federal judge’s ruling and act accordingly.
Madam president, I yield the floor.
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