Supervisor of Elections, voter advocacy groups prepare for large turnout on first day of early voting

Early voting starts Monday

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. —

Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan is expecting “a lot of people to come out” for the first day of early voting on Monday. Clay, St. Johns and Nassau also start early voting October 19.

In Georgia, the first week brought long lines and hefty wait times. Hogan said they’re hoping to avoid that in Duval County, but added they can’t prepare for technology hiccups. He said they’ve tested and re-tested, and as of Friday, everything is in working order.

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The elections office has been preparing for 90% of registered voters to cast a ballot in this election season.

Groups like The New Florida Majority are focused on educating Jacksonville’s underserved populations. Moné Holder is the senior program director for policy, advocacy and research at The New Florida Majority. She said because of COVID-19 a lot of their work on the ground has shifted to social media, phone banks and texting.

There are 20 total early voting sites across Duval County. Hogan told Action News Jax’s Robert Grant that there’s one polling location for every 16,000 on the northside and one for every 40,000 on the southside. This election, EWC and UNF will not host ballot boxes. Hogan said they had the lowest voter turnout across the state. Instead they added a location at the Prime Osborne Convention Center and FSCJ at Deerwood.

The New Florida Majority worries this will deter students and the black community surrounding the campus from hitting the polls. “At 18 to 20 years-old, if there was a challenge for me to get to a polling location, I probably wouldn’t go,” Holder said.

Hogan said at UNF, there are two other sites within about two miles of the school.

The New Florida Majority will also have volunteers at each site to help inform voters at the polls about what to expect. “Let them know that there’s someone outside a candidate or party who’s helping make sure their vote is being counted,” she said.

The non-profit is also working with ride-share programs to provide vouchers for rides to polls. They normally host “Souls to the Polls” with local churches but have held off on the program because of COVID-19.

Voters can also request a vote-by-mail ballot by October 24 online, or in person at the SOE office right up until Election Day on November 3.