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Battle over elections office heats up in federal court

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Updated: 9/24/2013 10:26 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The debate over the future of our supervisor of elections office may not be over.

The Jacksonville City Council recently approved moving the Gateway location to One Imeson, but the owner of Gateway isn't letting it go without a fight.

A federal lawsuit was filed to block the move.

The future of that elections office now rests in the hands of a federal judge.

"We really think the process was very fair," said Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland. "Everybody got an opportunity to submit whatever price they wanted to. It was competitive."

An attorney for Gateway spoke for more than an hour inside the Federal Courthouse in downtown Jacksonville, detailing complaints including voter access -- specifically, how a move out of the Northside shopping center would hamper the ability for African Americans to vote.

U.S. District Judge Timothy Corrigan questioned if Gateway should use voter disenfranchisement as part of its argument, saying, "Why is this a Gateway matter instead of some other group... Why aren't Gateway residents here or any Gateway resident association?"

Holland vows an early voting site will be in the Gateway community even if his office leaves.

"It's probably the farthest thing from the truth, because in reality, One Imeson has got nothing to do with where the people vote," said Holland. "In fact, we don't even plan on having an early voting site at One Imeson. We're going to continue voting at Gateway. We're committed to that."

Holland says he had planned to move into his new space in September rent-free for the first 16 months. But the move is now delayed until at least October, due to the lawsuit. That means an additional cost of $51,000 to taxpayers.

Judge Corrigan says he will issue his ruling on the matter by Oct. 3.

The attorney for Gateway Retail did not want to comment Monday on the pending lawsuit.

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