Priorities USA Foundation Will File Suit Against Florida Legislature’s Bill Aimed at Preventing Early Voting on Public Colleges and Universities

June 22, 2019

The Priorities USA Foundation will file a lawsuit challenging the Florida legislature’s new election bill if it is signed by the Governor, based on a parking requirement added to the bill aimed at limiting the ability to use public university and college campuses as early voting sites, and therefore prevent young Floridians from exercising their right to vote.

According to Florida early voting statue, local election officials can offer early voting in any location that has been otherwise approved for early voting (including stadiums, civic centers, and government-owned community centers).  Former Secretary of State Kenneth Detzner interpreted this law to prohibit early voting on college or university campuses — thus disenfranchising and burdening the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of eligible Florida young voters — particularly affecting young people and college students.

The Priorities USA Foundation filed suit challenging that interpretation in May 2018 and obtained a preliminary injunction in July 2018. In granting our motion, the court held that the State’s interpretation violated the Equal Protection Clause and the 26th Amendment, as it was intentionally discriminatory toward young peoples’ ability to vote. The court’s decision represents one of the few cases in which a court has articulated the standard for a claim under this Amendment. As a result of our 2018 court victory, early voting was permitted on Florida’s public college and university campuses. Local elections officials worked quickly to open eleven brand new voting sites, where almost 60,000 voters cast ballots in the November 2018 election.

Yet, once again, Florida lawmakers and Governor DeSantis are attempting to place an unnecessary burden on the right to vote of Florida’s young voters who are likely to live on or near a public college or university campus. The lawsuit being filed will argue that this renewed attempt to limit early voting on public college and university campus sites, once again, violates the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

“We will not stand by and let lawmakers try to keep young Floridians from exercising their right to vote,” said Guy Cecil, Chairman of the Priorities USA Foundation. “We stand ready, again, to fight for Floridians whose voting rights are being taken away by unconstitutional actions intending to keep young voters away from the polls. Priorities will remain fully committed to work to make sure that every young Floridian has every opportunity to have their voice heard.”

The Priorities USA Foundation is committed to protecting the right to vote for every American. Over the past several years, the Priorities USA Foundation sponsored and filed lawsuits in Iowa, Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire fighting against repressive voting laws meant to restrict citizens’ right to vote without unconstitutional and unnecessary burdens.