Central Florida Urban League Announces "I Have A Voice" Initiative To Increase Voter Participation
Dismal Turnout in August Primary Motivates Intense Push Around November Election
ORLANDO, FL (September 9, 2010) – Calling the voter turnout in the August 24 primary “dismal” and “apathetic,” the Central Florida Urban League (CFUL) has launched a program designed to increase voter registration and encourage more people – especially those in minority neighborhoods – to go to the polls this November. Plans were announced today outside the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office.
The “I Have a Voice” campaign consists of three elements: a voter registration drive that will begin immediately; a series of “Conversations with the Candidates” for local and statewide offices to be held in Orlando and Sanford in October; and a get-out-the-vote effort to increase participation at the polls for the general election on November 2.
“Our democracy depends on the participation of the people,” said Allie Braswell Jr., President and CEO of the Central Florida Urban League. “and disturbingly few voters made the effort during the primary, especially in minority neighborhoods.”
Braswell cites some disquieting figures:
Across Central Florida, fewer than 25 percent of eligible voters cast ballots on August 24 – only marginally better than the statewide average of 21 percent.
The low turnout was particularly acute in minority communities. For instance, the District 6 race for Orange County Commission, which includes many of the county’s African-American neighborhoods, attracted a paltry 9,733 voters. In sharp contrast, more than 27,000 voters participated in the District 4 election and some 23,123 voters cast their ballots in the District 5 race. Both districts are more affluent and have fewer minority residents.
“Why the lack of voter participation in the most cherished process in our country – a right that thousands of civil rights activists fought for in the 1960s?” Braswell asks. “The Urban League believes it is important to do its part to encourage as many people as possible to register to vote and to then express their opinions at the polls on Election Day.”
For the voter registration effort, CFUL will solicit the support of elected and appointed officials in pushing registration initiatives and also launch a proactive media campaign detailing the importance of voting in November. Final deadline for Floridians to register and be eligible to vote on Election Day is October 4.
The “Conversations with the Candidates” forums are envisioned as a way to give voters a chance to meet, hear and question candidates running for Orange County mayor, three area Congressional seats and the hotly-contested Senate race.
The forums begin on October 5 with Orange County mayoral candidates Teresa Jacobs and Bill Segal in downtown Orlando and continue through the month with sessions for Congressional Districts 3, 8 and 24 and the Senate race.
All sessions are non-partisan and all candidates across the political spectrum for all of the seats have been invited. Exact locations for the forums will be announced at a later date.
A number of community organizations have joined the “I Have a Voice” campaign. “We are extremely pleased that a number of community organizations and groups have agreed to work with us as ‘Partners’ in this effort,” Braswell added. “Partners to date include the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Asian American Chamber of Commerce also expressed its support of the initiative. In addition, the Florida Sun, the Orlando Advocate, the Orlando Times and WOKB Radio have joined our initiative as Partners. They and other media organizations will play a key role in raising awareness and making this campaign a success.“