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Politics / Issues

Jacksonville activists renew early voting dispute with elections supervisor

Activists rally out-front the Duval Supervisor of Elections Office
Raymon Troncoso
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Activists rally out-front the Duval Supervisor of Elections Office

Local activists and community groups are renewing their conflict with Duval Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan over the lack of early voting sites on two college campuses.

The organizations, along with elected leaders, previously criticized Hogan for not including the early voting sites on University of North Florida and Edward Waters University campuses in a special election last year, among several others.

2018 was the last year the campuses had a polling place.

Tameka Hobbs, executive director of the A. Phillip Randolph Institute for Law, Race, Social Justice, and Economic Policy at EWU, was one of many speakers gathered at a rally Thursday outside Hogan's Downtown headquarters.

She says the fight for an early voting site at EWU is for the Newtown neighborhood as much as it is for the campus.

"That early voting site is not only critical for our students, staff and faculty, but the surrounding community that is made up of older people. That community also has a lot of people who don't have easy access to transportation," Hobbs said.

The upcoming mid-term elections, which will also include the special elections for Jacksonville sheriff, will have 20 early voting sites, the same number as in 2020 and up from 15 that were used in 2021 and early 2022.

Hogan had been criticized for closing early voting sites in areas with relatively lower income and a higher percentage of Black residents than areas where sites remained open during the latter elections.

The early voting sites selected for the 2022 mid-terms are largely the same as those used in the 2020 presidential election, excluding the Gateway Town Center, which served a voter base that was nearly 79% Black in 2020 and will be replaced by the Joseph Lee Community Center.

The supervisor's office did not respond to a request for comment but previously told WJCT News that sites were selected based on geographic distribution and population density, and that the office did not track the race, gender, age or party affiliation of voters or take census tract data into account when selecting early voting sites.

A full list of early voting sites is available at the Supervisor of Elections website.

Copyright 2022 WJCT News 89.9. To see more, visit WJCT News 89.9.