Using Florida Public Colleges and Universities as Early Voting Locations
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The voter turnout amongst youth, whilst increasing, could always improve. It is important to encourage voter turnout for everyone in general. Having no early voting locations at Florida public colleges and universities is simply not helping to improve political efficacy.
According to FL Statute 101.657, there are plenty of different buildings that are listed as early voting locations, however, "educational facilities" are not amongst those listed. Due to the wording of the statute, any buildings on public college and university campuses are not to be permitted to become polling locations.
An example would be that here at the University of Florida, students are not allowed to go to the Reitz Union, a central location accessible to all UF students, in order to vote early. If the wording of Statute 101.657 were to change, then the Reitz Union or other buildings on campus would become eligible to be early voting locations.
Another portion of the statute demands better placement of early voting locations: "The sites must be geographically located so as to provide all voters in the county an equal opportunity to cast a ballot." This demand clouds the reality for college students, many whom do not have the time in between hectic schedules, nor the accessibility, to reach polling buildings that are located miles and miles away.
The ease that would be created if students, majority of which live on college campuses, could simply take a five minute walk to a school building or stop by a building nearby one of their classes to cast their vote, would be tremendous. This quick fix would make early voting significantly more efficient for students, and allow for political efficacy to take affect.
The youth are the future, and it is important to make sure that every student has a chance to go and vote early without having to worry about the hassle that it currently takes to contribute to our democracy and our greatest rights as citizens, which is the right to vote.
If the wording of Florida Statute 101.657 were to be updated, then the statue would target the needs of about 800,000 potential voters in public higher education systems in Florida. All voices that deserve to be heard. All people who should have a fair chance to cast their votes. Hence, public colleges and universities in the state of Florida should be allowed to become early voting locations.
For more information, check out Megan Newsome's article in the Gainesville Sun (link below):
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