Thursday, August 16, 2018
Politics

Carlton: Sorry, Gov. Scott, but college students can early vote after all. Hey, USF, talking to you here...

Good news, at least for those of us who keep believing in that old-fashioned notion that voting should be open and accessible to everyone who’s qualified.

Even if they’re, say, young voters. And even if certain politicians do not like the direction in which the votes might go.

"A stark pattern of discrimination" is what a federal judge recently called the decree four years ago by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration that state college and university campuses do not qualify to have early voting sites.

Unconstitutional, the judge also said.

A little history: Long lines to vote in 2012 prompted needed change — such as expansion of early voting. This included allowing elections supervisors to designate certain facilities as early voting sites, including convention centers and "government-owned community centers."

But in 2014, Scott’s secretary of state opined that the student union at the University of Florida in Gainesville did not fit the definition to qualify as an early voting site.

Never mind that early voting is particularly popular with college students — who, it turns out, sometimes don’t have cars.

Never mind that students live, study, work and play on and around college campuses, making those campuses great places to get engaged and involved in the political process.

And never mind that, as U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker put it rather nicely in his recent order striking down the campus ban: "Voting is the beating heart of democracy."

Scott’s office had scoffed at the legal action brought by six current or former UF and Florida State students, the League of Women Voters and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, calling it "frivolous" and an "election-year gimmick."

Others saw another deliberate attempt to suppress the vote.

The judge said this: "Throwing up roadblocks in front of younger voters does not remotely serve the public interest. Abridging voting rights never does." (As an aside, he also referred to UF as a school "revered by many as Florida’s first and finest institution of higher education," and yes, he’s a Gator.)

His ruling is a victory not just for voting rights but for young Floridians motivated to have a say — particularly in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

So let’s get early voting — right here at home, at the University of South Florida’s main campus in Tampa — right?

Not so fast.

It’s too late to have campus early voting in place for the upcoming August primary, so we’re talking about the November general election. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor has penned a letter to USF president Judy Genshaft lauding the good-news ruling and urging USF to take the lead. Craig Latimer, elections supervisor for Hillsborough County, says he has been in conversation with school officials. A USF spokeswoman said this week they are "still evaluating potential spaces."

Here’s hoping it happens soon. Because I’m betting there’s plenty of students out there ready to have their say — as early as possible.

Comments
Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Romano: Con artist or Florida politician? You decide

Decorum matters, and so the attorney’s language was appropriately measured.In seeking to have a constitutional amendment thrown off the ballot, a motion filed in Leon County used words such as "misleading’’ and "ambiguity’’ and "wordsmithing.’’That’s...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

Veteran Hernando politicians take oversized contributions, run afoul of campaign finance laws

BROOKSVILLE — With primary Election Day at the doorstep, two Republican candidates vying for seats on the Hernando County Commission found themselves in uncomfortable spots over potential filings with the Florida Commission on Ethics.And a third Repu...
Published: 08/15/18
Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

Q&A: A Watergate trickster talks dirty politics, then and now

CLEARWATERNearly half a century ago, Martin Kelly made the mistake of his life.He was a senior at the University of Miami when he decided to take part in what would become one of the most infamous political scandals in U.S. history: Watergate. He was...
Published: 08/15/18

Pasco Political Notebook for Aug. 17

Republican Club hosts candidate forum at meetingThe West Pasco Republican Club will host an "Election Extravaganza" candidate forum at its meeting Aug. 21 at Heritage Springs Country Club, 11345 Robert Trent Jones Parkway, Trinity. A social time will...
Published: 08/13/18
Updated: 08/15/18
Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting in Pasco: Here’s what to remember when you head to the polls

Early voting Pasco County begins Saturday and runs through Aug. 25, with 11 locations across the county for voters.Polls are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 20-24, and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug...
Published: 08/13/18
Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

Largo election cancelled as incumbents stay with no opposition

LARGO — There will be no suspense in the city when elections arrive Nov. 6. In fact, there will be no election at all, because all four city commissioners whose seats were up were re-elected by default when no one came forward by the end of the candi...
Published: 08/13/18
Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

Florida candidate tried to prove she’s a college graduate. The school says her diploma is fake.

The political kerfuffle around Melissa Howard began when a news site reported that the Florida state House hopeful is not a college graduate, as she claims to be. To prove the story wrong, Howard, R, reportedly flew to her proclaimed alma mater, Ohio...
Published: 08/12/18
Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

Romano: Two years later, politicians still ignoring Florida voters on medical marijuana

The war is over, except no one in Tallahassee has bothered to read the news.And so Florida continues its daft fight against medical marijuana. All of which means patients are being left behind, voters are getting ignored, and lawyers are buying fanci...
Published: 08/11/18
Hillsborough, tops in state for drug-addicted babies, will file suit against opioid makers

Hillsborough, tops in state for drug-addicted babies, will file suit against opioid makers

TAMPA — Hillsborough County plans to file a lawsuit next week against companies that manufacture opioid drugs, alleging that aggressive marketing of painkillers worsened the opioid crisis.The county joins a number of other local governments nationwid...
Published: 08/10/18
Ex-aide Omarosa says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist

Ex-aide Omarosa says she refused hush money, pens White House memoir calling Trump racist

WASHINGTON — Omarosa Manigault Newman was offered a $15,000-a-month contract from President Donald Trump’s campaign to stay silent after being fired from her job as a White House aide by Chief of Staff John Kelly last December, according to a forthco...
Published: 08/10/18