Division of Elections claims site not “government-owned community center”; ACLU investigating possible challenge to decision

CONTACT: ACLU of Florida Media Office, (786) 363 – 2737 media@aclufl.org

GAINESVILLE – The Florida Division of Elections has rejected the city of Gainesville’s request to use the University of Florida student union building as an early voting site, making it more difficult for UF students to vote in the upcoming 2014 election.

Responding to the state’s decision, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon stated:

“Welcome to the start of the 2014 election, as we now have the first of what will likely be many efforts by the Scott administration to manipulate the vote and make participating in our democracy harder for the Floridians whose voices they feel shouldn’t be heard. How is a student union building any different from a library or other government building serving a community, especially since the UF student union already satisfies the requirements to serve as a polling place on election day? The decision by the Secretary of State’s office that a student union at a state university is somehow not a ‘government-owned community center’ is a transparently political interpretation of the law intended to make it harder for students to vote.

“The ACLU of Florida brought several lawsuits to stop voter suppression efforts by this administration in the lead-up to the 2012 election, and we are already looking into whether this attack on the voting rights of University of Florida students can also be challenged.”