The Volusia County-Daytona Beach Branch of the NAACP and the Volusia County Department of Elections met at the Dickerson Center on Sept. 26 to prepare the branch to operate voter registration drives for the upcoming 2016 elections. Cynthia Slater, president of the local branch, was joined by approximately 25 branch members and community advocates.
Supervisor of Elections Ann McFall and her staff facilitated the informal training aimed at third-party registration organizations. The term “third-party” applies to any person, entity, or organization that solicits or collects voter registration applications.
McFall’s staff reviewed current laws, introduced new laws, and described new voting equipment.
Pamphlets and information were also distributed.
New laws & equipment
“What third-party groups can and can’t do became a big deal just before 2012 when the laws changed,” said McFall. “You have to be a registered third-party vendor with the (elections) division; the NAACP already has a good handle on things. There are about 20 different groups that are permitted to do it. It used to be anyone could, but now it’s very restrictive by state law,” she added.
State vendors provide election equipment and software. Volusia County has used Dominion equipment since 1994 and is currently replacing antiquated equipment that is no longer manufactured. Their new supplier is ES&S which, according to company’s website, is the world’s largest elections-only company and has been used by U.S. municipalities and counties to help run elections for more than 30 years.
Critical 2016 election
Since 1965, the Voting Rights Act has protected voters at the polls. Advocates want to ensure that all who are qualified register in time to exercise their voting rights.
“We need support from the entire Daytona Beach-Volusia County area. There will be a big change during the 2016 elections,” said Slater.
“Early voting will be extended to 15 days. We will continue with voter registration drives until the last day to register to vote in the 2016 elections, which are critical to the future of African-Americans and other minorities. We must get out to vote in the upcoming presidential election.
Otherwise, the gains we have made will be lost,” she added.
September was also National Voter Registration Month and considered a time “to encourage voter participation and increase awareness of state requirements and deadlines for voting,” according to the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).
“Each September, we ask eligible citizens to help celebrate democracy and make voting part of our back-to-school and back-to-business routines,” said NASS President Tom Schedler. “Thanks to state adoption of new and improved technologies, registering to vote has never been faster, easier or more convenient for people with busy lives.”
According to the Florida Department of State’s Division of Elections, Daytona Beach residents are taking full advantage of those conveniences. The agency’s monthly report ending August 2015 states that 1,674 Volusia County residents registered to vote.
Among them, 81 percent utilized the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to register while they were renewing, reinstating, or obtaining a driver’s license. The remaining 19 percent chose mail, public assistance and armed forces recruiting offices, and public libraries.
College campus drives
Daytona Beach is home to five colleges and by law, the Volusia County Office of Elections is required to call each and offer to assist them. They are not considered third-party registrants.
“We help with B-CU (Bethune-Cookman University) because of the large number of students,” McFall explained. “We try to team up on their larger drives and also do the B-CU Student Government Association elections. We set up a precinct and everything.”
Grassroots and local community efforts like those spearheaded by Slater and the NAACP are crucial to registering eligible voters from the elderly to college students.
“B-CU will be holding a massive voter registration drive on October 14, “said Slater. “Hopefully, we will also be able to go into all of the churches to do voter registrations, and of course there will be other events in the city where we will be able to do voter registration drives.”
Poll workers needed
Applications for poll workers are also being accepted. To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years old, registered to vote in Volusia County, be able to read and write English, and deal with the public in a courteous and professional manner.
Qualified applicants must attend mandatory training sessions before each election and be available to work from 6 a.m. until after the polls close at 7 p.m. (most work is completed by 8:30 p.m.).
Poll workers serve at the will of the supervisor of elections and become part of a pool of prospective workers. Actual hours worked, duties, positions, training and rates of pay will be discussed during a mandatory orientation session that every applicant must attend. There is no compensation offered for orientation.