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Saturday, October 16, 2021

You can’t vote early on campus. Here’s what a UF group is doing to change that.

<p>Poll deputy Joseph Antonelli waits to greet early voters in front of the County Administration Building in downtown Gainesville on Thursday.</p>

Poll deputy Joseph Antonelli waits to greet early voters in front of the County Administration Building in downtown Gainesville on Thursday.

A UF student group is petitioning to allow students and staff to cast their votes early, on campus.

Gators for Underrepresented Voters is collecting signatures for a change.org petition that aims to early update Florida Statute 101.657 to include “educational facilities” as early voting locations. Under the proposed updated statute, voters would have an option of voting at the Reitz Union in future elections.

UF psychology freshman Hannah Daigle said it would be easier for college-aged voters to participate in elections.

“A big thing for young voters is convenience,” the public relations manager for the student group said.

The closest early voting location — a 30-minute walk from UF — is the Supervisor of Elections’ downtown office, located at 515 North Main St.

The state denied use of the Reitz Union as an early voting site in February of 2014, according to Alligator archives.

During the early voting period of the Nov. 2, 2016 election, the Bob Graham Center for Public Service, along with local ambassadors of the Andrew Goodman Foundation, shuttled 125 students to the Supervisor of Elections Office, according to archives.

UF alumna Megan Newsome, 21, a leading ambassador for the Goodman Foundation’s “vote everywhere” campaign, said a polling location on campus would cater to even more underserved students. She said the campaign should also be statewide.

“I want this to be a ripple effect,” Newsome said. “The goal is to definitely make other universities aware of the problem.”

Contact Elliott Nasby at enasby@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter at @_ElohEl.

Poll deputy Joseph Antonelli waits to greet early voters in front of the County Administration Building in downtown Gainesville on Thursday.

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