A new lawsuit accuses Gov. Rick Scott’s administration of making it more difficult for young people to vote by preventing early voting at public buildings on state university campuses. The election-year complaint filed Tuesday by the League of Women Voters seeks to strike down a four-year-old interpretation of Florida’s early voting laws by Scott’s chief elections officer, Secretary of State Ken Detzner. Detzner’s office issued an opinion in 2014 that the Legislature’s expansion of early voting sites to include “government-owned community centers” does not include the student union building on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville. The city of Gainesville asked if the Reitz Student Union building on the UF campus could serve as an early voting site in 2014. The state said no.
“The result of the secretary’s interpretation of the early voting statute is an unjustifiable burden on the voting rights of hundreds of thousands of eligible Florida voters,” the complaint asserts. “Those burdens fall particularly and disproportionately on the state’s young voters.” As a result, the lawsuit claims, many young people will find it “difficult, and in some cases, impossible” to vote in 2018.
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee on behalf of five students at the University of Florida and a sixth student at Florida State in Tallahassee who said they have faced transportation and logistical barriers in trying to vote.
It’s the latest case in which the governor is accused of making it harder for Floridians to vote. Scott has said he has made the state “one of the most voter-friendly states in the nation.”