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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Reitz Union declared early voting spot for 2018 general election

<p>Alligator file photo</p>

Alligator file photo

University students and faculty can soon walk to the polls to cast their ballots for early voting.

The Reitz Union has been designated an early voting site for the 2018 general election from Oct. 22 to Nov. 3, the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton announced Friday night.

The student union will not serve as an early voting site for the 2018 Aug. 28 primary, which begins Saturday through Aug. 25. It is unknown if the student center will be used for future early voting dates because the Supervisor of Elections Office only designates early voting sites one election at a time, spokesperson TJ Pyche wrote in an email. Additionally, the City Commission decides on its own early voting sites.

In July, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that the Florida Department of State’s 2014 opinion excluding early voting on college and university campuses violated the First, 14th and 26th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, proceeding a lawsuit from five UF students, a Florida State Student and the League of Women Voters of Florida, against Secretary of State Ken Detzner for preventing early voting, according to Alligator archives.

A 2014 state opinion said the terms “convention center” and “government-owned community center” couldn’t be applied to include the Reitz Union or other facilities in colleges and universities.

“I am beyond excited to hear the news,” said  22-year-old Megan Newsome, one of the plaintiffs in the ongoinglawsuit and a UF astrophysics graduate and researcher. “It’s been a long time coming. I just can’t wait to move forward and get students to know about the site and definitely use it.”

Immediately following the decision from Walker, Barton sent a letter to President Kent Fuchs requesting accomodations from the student center, including 40 parking spots, because they cannot charge voters to park, a secure room where equipment could be stored, access to a room where voting will take place and signs directing voters to the voting room, Pyche said.

Barton was concerned about the Nov. 3 football game against the University of Missouri because it’s also the last Saturday of early voting, which tends to be the busiest, Pyche said.

Barton and UF administration will meet on Aug. 30 to work on these requests, he said.

The university is looking into providing 20 monitored parking spots in the Reitz Union Parking Garage from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., said UF spokesperson Steve Orlando. Parking patrol will monitor the spots and a sheriff's deputy will take over during the football game.

“Early voting on campus was driven quite a lot by the students,” Orlando said. “Having it centrally located on campus would make it more convenient for students.”

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Contact Christina Morales at cmorales@alligator.org and follow her on Twitter at @Christina_M18

Alligator file photo

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