Priorities USA Foundation Announces Settlement in Florida Lawsuit that Challenged Restrictions on Early Voting on College Campuses

April 03, 2020

Today, Priorities USA Foundation announced a settlement agreement with Secretary of State Laurel Lee regarding a lawsuit filed in 2019 challenging then-Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner’s prohibition on placing early voting sites on college and university campuses. Priorities USA Foundation supported the  lawsuit which was filed by eight Florida young voters, the Florida League of Women Voters and the Andrew Goodman Foundation. As a result of the settlement, the lawsuit will be voluntarily dismissed.

As part of the settlement, Secretary Lee has issued a directive that makes it clear that Florida’s supervisors of elections are free to place early voting sites on college and university campuses. The directive also states that any prior directives that indicated that student unions were unsuitable for early voting are withdrawn. Finally, the directive clarifies an additional revision made to the law while the lawsuit was pending, making it clear that supervisors need not ensure that a certain number of nonpermitted parking sites are available at every single early voting site. Instead, supervisors may determine the adequacy of nonpermitted parking based on the demographics, geography, foot traffic, or other features of the voting population or the communities in which the sites are placed, provided that sufficient nonpermitted parking is available within the jurisdiction for voters who are anticipated to access early voting using a personal vehicle.

“Today’s announcement is a victory for Florida’s college students and for the communities that will have increased accessibility to polling places throughout the state,” said Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA. “We’d like to thank the plaintiffs who stood up to an unjust ruling and the Florida officials who agreed to make these changes in an effort to expand access to the ballot box.”

“This settlement is not just a win for student voters in Florida but also a victory for democracy,” said Alexandria Harris, Executive Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “Engaged and active voters are the linchpin of a healthy democracy and our research demonstrates that students are more enthusiastic than ever about voting. Lawmakers should be doing everything in their power to support and encourage their participation. I spent my college career fighting to have equal access to the ballot box for myself and my peers, so I recognize the courage it took for these students to make their voices heard. I want to thank our co-plaintiffs including the League of Women Voters of Florida.”

“We are gratified that once again the constitutional rights of our young voters have superseded partisan politics,” said Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida.