Community Advocacy / Local Government

Student Advocates Win Additional Campus Voting Sites

September 24, 2018

Media Contact: Communications Director Elsa Roberts, elsa@engage.miami, (906) 281-0384

Miami, FL —Engage Miami is thrilled that at the Sept 20th Miami-Dade County Budget Hearing, our county commission and mayor affirmed the importance of providing access to the ballot box by adding two new early voting sites for the November election, including one at MDC North Campus and one at MDC Kendall Campus, in addition to the early voting site at FIU announced previously. As our Executive Director, Rebecca Pelham expressed in her comments to the board, “students are the future of our democracy. Investing in young people now will pay dividends in the future because there is nothing more resilient than a civically engaged city.”

We believe in nurturing and supporting the civic development of young Miamians, which is why Engage Miami led in making early voting on MDC campuses the main topic of the budget hearing with a contingent of staff, interns and supportive community members speaking in support of the testimony from MDC students who rallied around this advocacy effort. Engage Organizer Briyana Joseph, who works primarily with students from the North Campus, noted in her testimony that “two of the biggest responses I receive for why a student isn’t voting is because they don’t have the time or don’t have the transportation,” adding that mail-in ballots present their own issues because some students have “expressed that they don’t have a consistent mailbox to send their mail to.” An early voting site on campus means students will be able to access the polls, and start a lifelong habit of voting.

Due to the decision by the commission, now students with big dreams but overburdened schedules will have better voting access. We’re grateful that Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the County Commission recognized the vital importance of ensuring early voting access to students and staff on campus, which has the additional benefit of providing more welcoming, easy-to-access sites for off-campus community members to engage the elections as well. Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava, Jean Monestime, Barbara Jordan, and Eileen Higgins were especially strong champions at the budget hearing and we applaud their determination in ensuring equitable access to the ballot box.

Students showed their commitment and leadership in the democratic process throughout the effort to secure voting sites on campus at both FIU and MDC. For some who attended the budget hearing it was their first time attending a county commission meeting, and on Thursday they saw their power and responsibility as community members to make their county a more equitable place to live, work, study, and vote. We’re honored to work with such engaged young people and excited to support them as the channel their civic energy into our community.