Politics

Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy Furious Over Democrats' Political Antics at UF

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: February 17, 2014 3:55 AM
Bill Nelson, Ed Braddy, Charlie Crist

Bill Nelson, Ed Braddy, Charlie Crist

The student union building at the University of Florida doesn't pass as an early voting site -- a Florida Division of Elections ruling Democrats have seized upon to accuse Gov. Rick Scott of “voter suppression.”

But Republicans have begun to fight back, with Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy leading the charge. Braddy isn't taking political gamesmanship in his town lying down, especially when he thinks Democrats are courting UF students with deception, not facts.

The "voter suppression" story actually began weeks ago. Students at the university asked if the student union center could be used for early voting in the March 11 citywide elections. But they got a red light. The state DOE said the law defining early-voting stations is specific, and a student union is not a “government-owned community center.”

The decision caused controversy when Democrats across the Sunshine State accused Scott of trying to stop young people from voting -- and pointed to political reasons for the apparent “suppression.”

“Rick Scott doesn’t think he can win re-election on the merits, so he is trying to suppress the votes of honest Floridians,” said the Florida Democratic Party in a statement released last week.

The legal decision quickly caught traction with other politicians when Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and former Gov. Charlie Crist both took the opportunity to pounce on Scott over the state’s decision.

“This is befitting of a Third World country,” Nelson said about the state’s decision.

Last week, it was lights, camera, action when Crist attended a rally at UF to discuss the controversy. Crist killed two birds with one stone during the visit -- not only did he get to talk to students at the university, but he also walked out of UF with a new campaign video dogging Gov. Scott.

"I don't understand really what's happening here with Rick Scott's administration and why they're not letting you vote on campus," said Crist. "It seems to me that in a democracy, people ought to have the right to vote."

Crist called the decision an “outrage” on Twitter and called on his followers to protest Rick Scott's “awful insult to every student and voter in the state.”

That's when Mayor Braddy jumped in.

"For Sen. Nelson to liken Gainesville to a Third World outpost is beneath the dignity of a United States senator and more in line with a partisan operative,” said Gainesville Mayor Ed Braddy Jr. “The fact is, when Charlie Crist was governor, Florida cities had more restrictive conditions on early voting. The law was broadened in 2013 after Crist left office. It has gotten easier, not harder.”

Early voting has been the center of controversy after many people waited for hours to vote in 2012. Some voters even left voting sites because they didn’t want to wait in line for too long to cast their ballot.

To alleviate issues with early voting, legislators expanded early voting sites last year to include courthouses, civic centers, stadiums, convention centers, fairgrounds and government-owned senior and community centers.  

But when it came to college campuses, they weren’t so convinced they should be part of the definition. Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, told the Tampa Bay Times that legislators did not specifically allow for early voting sites to be on college campuses.

That legislative decision was also called by some a political move orchestrated by Scott to help with his re-election campaign.

The governor’s office scoffed at the notion because it wasn’t their office that issued the ruling on the voting site -- it was the Division of Elections, a department entirely separate from the governor’s office.

“Voting locations are determined by the law, not politics,” said Frank Collins, Scott’s communications director. “A political party cannot arbitrarily advocate for an early voting location that is outside the letter of the law.”

Gainesville currently already has two early voting sites -- one is 1.5 miles away from the UF campus and the other is 3 miles away.



Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen


Comments (15)

Michael
12:56PM FEB 17TH 2014
And if I recall correctly wheh Braddy and his sidekick Jake "Sugar" Fuller hosted the local radio show "Talk of the Town" with the assistance of the master of the obvious Ward "Inspector Gadget' Scott they had their panties in quite the wad over there being only the Supervisors Office available for early voting in the previous Mayoral election won narrowly by the gay commisioner. Indeed they thought ite was extrodinarily inconvenient to conservative voters to have to go downtown to be able to vote early.
Michael
5:04PM FEB 17TH 2014
Craig Lowe was the former mayor who was narrowly elected. Also would note Braddy campaigned on the decorum of the Commmission meeting chaired by Lowe who did show a degree of peevishness during public comment periods but as compared to Braddy's conduct now looks like the soul of pleasant decorum.
Frank
12:04PM FEB 17TH 2014
Yes, yes, you must be right --> "Braddy isn't taking political gamesmanship in his town lying down" . . . I mean it's not like he's using his public office, even the seal of his official office, and public resources (and publicly paid for staff resources, such as his secretary's time?) to make partisan political comments, now is it . . . . . no wonder he's increasingly being highly criticized for his tirade . . . . just another inconvenient truth SSN minions once again fail to report . . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
RC
10:38AM FEB 17TH 2014
Oh the humanity, college students, all papmered and owned by Obama will now have to trek a full 1 & 1/2 miles to vote (many of them illegally).
Frank
12:02PM FEB 17TH 2014
Yes, yes, where have I heard this type of voter suppression rhetoric before . . . . hmmm, that's right, Sen. Mike Bennett! . . . . he of the Africans walk forever to vote and "This should not be easy" quote . . . .

And yes, as you say, MANY University of Florida students who want to vote MUST be illegal voters . . . sadly, you proven yourself to be more than just a little bigoted, racist and absolutely . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
Sandy Graves
9:15AM FEB 17TH 2014
The writer is wrong about the distance for early voting. With absentee voting, your vote is as close as your mailbox and your cell phone and judging from most college students I see these days...the cell phone is omnipresent. Call your Supervisor of Elections (ask Siri), request a ballot and in the comfort of your dorm room, vote. Heck, you can even Google the candidates and take time to study the issues, in depth. Follow the directions on your ballot and return by mail to your Supervisor of Elections. And just so you know, there are states that do not have absentee ballots or early voting and they are all up North and predominantly states controlled by Democrats. So stop whining about the cost of your government subsidized education and that you can't vote in your student center. A lot of men and women have taken bullets for your right to vote and in real third world countries, either you can't vote, your vote doesn't count or you are sitting in prison as a political dissident.
JC
7:50AM FEB 17TH 2014
Geezs - it is like none of you trolls read the article.

#1 “The fact is, when Charlie Crist was governor, Florida cities had more restrictive conditions on early voting. The law was broadened in 2013 after Crist left office. It has gotten easier, not harder.”

and

#2 The governor’s office scoffed at the notion because it wasn’t their office that issued the ruling on the voting site -- it was the Division of Elections, a department entirely separate from the governor’s office.

3. “Voting locations are determined by the law, not politics,” said Frank Collins, Scott’s communications director. “A political party cannot arbitrarily advocate for an early voting location that is outside the letter of the law.”
Michael
7:56AM FEB 17TH 2014
Last time I checked the Reitz Student Union is owned by the SUS, ie the government, and is defacto a "community center" for the UF comunity.
Michael
7:25AM FEB 17TH 2014
Ed Braddy is a immature partisan hack who is always in his core spoiling for a fight. He has every right to express his personal politically biased opinion for himself but it takes a special kind of hubris for him to do it on City of Gainesville letterhead attempting to portray his individual position as representing the majority of Gainesvile and the commission.He also continues to pretend he had nothing to do with the GREC biomass plant that he , as the sole current member of the commission that was a member then, made the motion to have the plant be 100mw and voted for its construction.
ralph
7:23AM FEB 17TH 2014
If this article is correct, Republicans defined "permissible" locations for early voting to include government owned stadiums and fairgrounds (because we all know how conducive a football field or carnival midway is for casting a ballot) but a student union - nah - not a good choice.

Jeez Louise people, when are you going to just self-assess your affiliation with the Republican shenanigans machinery and just say - enough is enough?
ralph
7:13AM FEB 17TH 2014
Politics is deceiving with spin, not facts. Everyone grow up. Let's make voting easy and convenient so that people are engaged, not made apathetic in their civic duties. It is a shame that Republicans continue to want to stay in power by limiting poll locations, hours and days in order to stay in office rather than (GASP) appeal to the voters with their positions.
lonnie bauer
8:47AM FEB 17TH 2014
i suppose next you would like voting booths in cemetaries and welfare offices so it is easier for democrats to vote, mabe even put them all closer together so you don't have to go to far for your next vote. 1.5 miles is too far or inconvenient for you? i guess you don't feel it is much of a privilage to vote, shame.
Frank
12:50PM FEB 18TH 2014
That's because it's a RIGHT to vote . . . next election, prove you're a real GOP man by following Senator Bennett's advise and walking the 200-300 miles to go and vote on election day to prove how important it is to you . . . . what, "too far or inconvenient for you"! . . . . just proves you're absolutely a hypocrite and . . . .

Pathetic . . . .
JES
10:54AM FEB 17TH 2014
Well said lonnie. People can manage to travel to the nearest Best Buy, however far away, when a new electronic device is hitting the market and they even show up a day or two early to secure a desireable place in line. They'll sit/sleep on the ground; construct a little shelter to protect themselves from rain, snow, sun, wind; maybe smoke a little pot; play with their cell phones for hours on end; etc. They find no inconvenience too great in the pursuit of a new toy (or of overpriced tickets for entertainment). But don't ask or expect anyone to be inconvenienced to vote and don't require them to have suitable ID. Let them vote early, vote late, and vote twice if they're lucky enough to be able to register in two states. What is a vote in the USA worth compared to the latest IPhone? Apparently, not much.
Freeman
11:15AM FEB 17TH 2014
8 hours to vote,,,,,,tar and feather republicans

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.