BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Oct. 5 was the deadline to register to vote for the upcoming general election scheduled for Nov. 3.
Problems with the state’s online registration system caused Governor Ron DeSantis to extend the deadline from Monday evening day to 7 p.m. Oct. 6.
In Daytona Beach, organizations like the Daytona Beach Black Clergy Alliance and Daytona Beach/Volusia County NAACP have partnered for events like “Souls to the Polls.’’
It entailed people leaving church following worship services to go cast ballots at early voting sites.
There is no such event this year, but a new one is in the works.
Halloween Voter’s Festival
The Black Clergy Alliance and local NAACP are teaming up with Equal Ground, Daytona Beach Martin Luther King Celebration Committee, Minority Elected Officials of Volusia County, Democratic Black Caucus of Volusia County and others for a Halloween Voter’s Festival on Oct. 31.
Equal Ground is a new voter registration, education and turnout effort in Black communities across Florida.
As of the Daytona Times Wednesday deadline, the details were still being hammered out.
“We’re excited about the community having an opportunity to get out to vote, turn in vote by-mail ballots and enjoy live entertainment. We are still working on the specifics,” commented Kim Brown-Crawford, chair of the Daytona Beach MLK Celebration Committee.
Brown-Crawford also is working with the Black Clergy Alliance and Equal Ground.
Safety measures were also being discussed due to COVID-19.
Brown-Crawford said, “There will be social distancing. We are working to be in compliance with guidelines set forth by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).”
The planned event highlights African American organizations working together.
“It is significant that all the organizations have united. We want to make sure that moving forward for this election cycle that we all had a unified vision and strategic plan. Equal Ground’s role is to launch a grassroots plan. We are targeting minority voters across the county,” responded Mario Davis.
Davis is the regional director of Equal Ground in Volusia County and the Executive Director of the Minority Elected Officials.
Brown-Crawford echoed, “We are doing what we can to work together and get people out to vote.”
The Minority Elected Officials recently created the Volusia County African American Leadership Council comprised of presidents from all the Black organizations throughout the county.
Davis stated, “Everybody gets a seat at the table and we can all collaborate.”
It is all about increasing voter turnout amongst minorities, especially African Americans. In the August primary, just 8 percent of Blacks in Volusia County voted or 8,864 out of over 30,000 registered voters.
Davis emphasized, “We understand that Blacks aren’t voting. The goal is to get the numbers up. We expect 25 percent for the upcoming election. We want 30 to 40 percent up turnout in the Black community.
“Forty six percent of Blacks in the county are registered to vote. We need to get voters who haven’t voted in the last three elections back to the polls. We must focus on the super voters, ensure they keep voting. We are targeting these voters in a united effort to get them to the polls.”
Check your ballot
The local NAACP has always registered people to vote and encouraged large voter turnout, but the results haven’t been what they want.
“Everybody should get out to vote. This election has two presidential candidates on opposite ends of the spectrum. People of color need to vote. Every issue that affects your daily lives is on the ballot,” expressed Cynthia Slater, local NAACP president.
The NAACP also watches the polls to ensure voters rights aren’t infringed upon.
Slater noted, “We are not having any major issues. There is the situation with the seal on the envelope for vote-by-mail ballots, but the supervisor of elections has addressed it. You can tape the ballots if needed.”
As of Daytona Times Wednesday deadline, the Volusia County elections website (volusiaelections.org) had over 431,000 registered voters. There were over 395,000 active voters and over 35,000 inactive voters.
Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis said 160,000 vote-by mail ballots have been mailed out with 41,000 returned.
Former felons register
Organizations have been able to get over 640 ex-felons registered to vote following Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to those who have done their time, paid their fines, finished parole or probation and didn’t commit violent acts.
“I don’t have the numbers, but we are getting people registered. We continue to work to register voters. We just need to get them to the polls. I also work on the local Amendment 4 initiative. There are 10,400 returning citizens; we have registered 640,” noted Davis.