Early Voting Won on Miami-Dade Campuses

 LWVMD President Marisol Zenteno, flanked by Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava and New Florida Majority Director Andrea Mercado, as well as representatives of other community organizations and several students, called for early voting sites on college campuses at a Sept. 13 press conference.

LWVMD President Marisol Zenteno, flanked by Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava and New Florida Majority Director Andrea Mercado, as well as representatives of other community organizations and several students, called for early voting sites on college campuses at a Sept. 13 press conference.

Florida’s current administration banned early voting on campuses four years ago—but civic organizations including the League of Women Voters of Florida, joined by several college students, were not about to take that lying down during this important election year.

Ensuring that Florida’s young people can use their voice is an issue that transcends all political divides. The desire of college students to participate in elections amid busy schedules led the League and the Andrew Goodman Foundation to file suit this spring to challenge the ban put in place by Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner.

The presiding judge ruled in their favor, calling the ban on campus early voting unconstitutional. “Throwing up roadblocks in front of younger voters does not remotely serve the public interest," wrote U.S. District Judge Mark Walker. "Abridging voter rights never does."

While counties and campuses across Florida complied with the ruling and arranged early voting sites on campus, Miami-Dade initially did not. Then several Miami-Dade students spoke out eloquently about their desire to be part of the political process and the difficulties of doing so with their full slate of academic and extracurricular activities at a press conference led by the League of Women Voters of Miami-Dade on September 13. Students also spoke out at a meeting of the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Organizations participating in the effort also included the FIU College Republicans, the FIU College Democrats, ACLU of Florida, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, All Voting is Local-FL, Florida New Majority, NextGen Florida, and Engage Miami.

Florida International University and Miami-Dade College have now joined a list of Florida college and university campuses offering early voting sites, such as the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of South Florida, University of Central Florida, University of North Florida, Edward Waters College, and Florida Atlantic University.

Miami-Dade already had 25 early-voting sites established for the general election in November. Florida International University became the 26th site. Miami Dade College’s North and South campuses will receive the 27th and 28th site.

This is a victory for democracy throughout the state of Florida, an example of the power that citizens can wield to enact change, and a testament to the hard work of our state’s Supervisors of Elections and their determination to ensure equitable access to the ballot for all Floridians.