The state’s denial of the City of Gainesville’s request to use the Reitz Union as an early voting center for next month’s municipal elections is drawing criticism locally.
The Reitz is a voting precinct for county, state and national elections.
City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said the state legislature provided a very narrow range of places that are eligible.
“Although one of them sounds like the Reitz Union would fit the definition, the state legislature said it did not,” he said.
Hawkins said locations for early voting are the Millhopper Branch Library and the supervisor of elections office downtown.
“I don’t think that anyone is intentionally trying to ostracize students,” he said, “but that’s the effect of it.”
On Nov. 6, 2012, the day of the national elections, 3,432 ballots were cast at the Reitz Union voting precinct.
In a statement released Friday, Howard Simon, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida executive director, said the ACLU is “already looking into whether this attack on the voting rights of University of Florida students can also be challenged.”
UF Student Body President Christina Bonarrigo said Student Government supports early voting for students and having a location closer to campus.
“However, we understand there are state rules that govern elections, and we’re being cognizant of where (we can) and where we cannot have early voting locations,” she said.
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 2/10/2014 under the headline "State rejects Reitz Union as an early voting center"]