Proposed changes to equalize voting access across Duval County could affect more than half of the county’s voters during the 2024 elections.
Several Jacksonville City Council committees approved revised voting precincts this week. The next stop will be final approval before the full City Council.
The changes would mean fewer precincts countywide on election day, but they would guarantee that every City Council district would have between 10 and 12 precincts.
The changes result from a lawsuit against the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office in late June, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
The lawsuit alleged that precincts ranged from nine to 18 per City Council district. Districts with fewer precincts put voters at a disadvantage due to longer travel distances, reduced accessibility and longer wait times compared with areas that had more, the lawsuit said.
Currently, the county has 186 voting precincts, and the proposed changes would drop that number to 161.
Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said the districts with the highest number of precincts were Districts 10 and 7, which cover Northwest Jacksonville, Downtown, Springfield, Riverside and Ortega. The district with the least amount of precincts was District 8, which covers the far Northside and Oceanway. He says the changes will give more people a far shot to vote.
“That’s our first principle of what we’re doing, and it’s the right thing to do and I’ve not met with a single group on the left or right that doesn’t agree with that,” Holland said.
The changes would affect about 375,000 of the roughly 650,000 voters in the county, Holland said.
If City Council approves the changes, the supervisor’s office will let voters know if their precinct changes by early November, when voter ID cards are mailed out. There also will be notes on voters’ sample ballots outlining any changes before the presidential primary in March.
On the flip side, Holland said the supervisor’s office is expanding the number of early voting locations to 25 for the 2024 election cycle — five more than before. They will include one at Edward Waters University and one in the Maxville area in southwest Duval County.
Final approval of the proposed precinct changes is expected to go before the Jacksonville City Council at its next meeting, on Oct. 10.