A FOCUS ON VOTING

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A few weeks are left for new voters to register for the August primary.

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The John H. Dickerson Center was the site of a past voter registration drive in Daytona Beach. The deadline to register for this year’s primary is July 20.
DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

The primary election is creeping up on us and local leaders are urging people to register now so they can vote this year.

The primary is Aug. 18 with early voting from Aug. 8-15 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at select locations.

For those who want to vote, there’s still time. The deadline to register is July 20.

The general election, which includes the presidential race, is Nov. 3. The deadline to register to vote for that election is Oct. 5.

While this year’s focus is primarily on the presidential race, there are critical local races.

Some of the local offices include the Daytona Beach mayor and city commission races in zones 2, 4 and 5. Volusia County races will include county chair; council district seats 2, 3 and 4; sheriff; property appraiser; county clerk; and supervisor of elections. Also on the ballot will be races for school board member District 2 and several circuit and county judge seats.

A different approach

Social justice and political organizations are hard at work registering people to vote and encouraging voters to participate in the electoral process.

The Volusia County/Daytona Beach NAACP has been hard at work registering people to vote, including register 25 people prior to the June 11 “I Can’t Breathe: Peaceful Protest’’ in Daytona Beach that drew about 500 participants.

“We are always doing voter registration. Our officers and committee members always have voter registration material on hand,” said Cynthia Slater, local NAACP president.

The organization has adjusted from knocking on doors and face-to-face registration due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve really had to adjust our approach with the pandemic. We are pushing people to register online. We are also increasing educating people and getting the word out online,” Slater stated.

Vote-by-mail push

The local Democratic Party also is encouraging absentee ballot voting during the pandemic.

In the past six weeks, the party has had 10,000 voters request absentee ballots. Next week, members will make 5,000 local calls encouraging voters to vote by mail.

“We’re working our butts off to get people to vote. We encourage vote by mail because it’s safer during the pandemic. In a few weeks, we’ll have our candidate cards out,” said Jewel Dickson, chair of the Democratic Executive Committee of Volusia County.

A response from the Republican Party of Volusia County wasn’t received by the Daytona Times’ Wednesday night deadline.

‘Voting is critical’

The Minority Elected Officials of Volusia County also is encouraging voters to register and hit the polls, especially African Americans and other minorities.

“Voting is critical, especially in times like these. Government representation is essential to the minority community and its residents. We encourage everyone to exercise their
right to vote and educate themselves on all candidates,” said Mario Davis, executive director of the Minority Elected Officials.

Voter turnout concern

The organization is educating minorities on elected officials, encouraging former felons affected by Amendment 4 to vote, and attempting to increase turnout in the Black community. It has partnered with the NAACP, Equal Justice Educational Fund and the
Florida Rights Restoration Committee.

The Minority Elected Officials, like the NAACP, is concerned with voter turnout.

“We want to increase voter turnout by 20 percent in the African American community,” noted Davis.

Ex-felons’ rights

Also in this year’s election, 1.4 million former felons in Florida who had their rights restored due to Amendment 4 can vote.

A federal judge upheld the amendment last month and struck down fees implemented on the measure. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis plans to appeal the decision.

Amendment 4 passed during the 2018 midterm election. It automatically restores voting rights to ex-felons who have done all they need to do in order to vote again.

It doesn’t apply to those who committed violent crimes including murder.

Slater emphasized, “What they need to understand is that they can register to vote. They should register to vote and they need to vote in both August and November. If they need assistance, they can contact us. They should also try to register online.”

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1 COMMENT

  1. We should also be concerned about the right to vote of people in jails. People in jail for a misdemeanor charge do not lose their right to vote nor do people who are in jail because they couldn’t make bail. It’s the obligation of Supervisors of Election to make sure that folks in jail have an opportunity to register and to vote.

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