Forum explores voting rights

Dayna Cooper will never forget her voting experience in the 2000 elections.

“I was so excited, it would’ve been my first time voting,” said Cooper, 20, a junior political science student from Laurel, Md.

Unfortunately, Cooper encountered the same insufficiencies that plagued thousands of voters throughout Florida who could not vote due to their names being unlisted, ballot mix-ups and voting machine difficulties.

“My name wasn’t on the list,” Cooper said.

“The person behind the desk called someone and together they confirmed that my name wasn’t on the list. So I went home.”

Dozens filled McGuinn/ Diamond’s basement during a workshop Tuesday evening titled, “Real Talk on Politics.”

Sponsored by the Beta Alpha Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., it sought to educate students on voter’s rights.

A video titled “Unprecedented: The 2000 Election” pointed out that many times a purge list is compiled of convicted felons who no longer have the right to vote.

The video confirmed that during the 2000 elections the 695 names that appeared on this list included 33 that were factually confirmed to be convicted felons.

At least 95 percent of the names on the list belonged to eligible voters. However, because their first and/or last names matched those of felons, they were not permitted to vote.

Information like middle names and dates of birth were disregarded.

“The video was significant especially to the student body,” said Janell George, the coordinator of “Real Talk on Politics.”

“It was a direct documentation of what went on during the 2000 elections-it showed clips of Tallahassee, local leaders and student leaders that we could identify with,” said George, 21, a senior English student from Bronx, N.Y. “It really got to the heart of how voters felt stripped of their rights.”

George also said she felt the purge list illustrates one of the wrongs committed during the 2000 elections.

“It goes to show you the disenfranchisement that occurred was detrimental to the outcome of the election,” George said.

“The video served as background of what happened during the 2000 elections,” said Jarrett Tyus, 20, a junior political science from Florence, Ala.

Tyus, a student facilitator knowledgeable of voter’s rights, answered questions concerning precinct areas and amendments that will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Along with the workshop, various organizations are helping students on campus become pro-active when it comes to the voting process. The Call Center is an activity where students can reach out to “residents of Leon County to inform them about the class size amendment that will appear on the ballot,” George said.

. Arrive with Five is sponsored by the NAACP and also calls out students to become poll watchers during the Nov. 5 elections.

“The purpose of this programs is to protect the voter’s rights. People were turned away for reasons that should not have been. No one was watching. No one there to answer questions, no one was there to educate them of their rights,” George said.

George especially notes the significance that the NAACP Vote Early March had on voters in the 2000 elections and hopes to get students along with the community out to vote in record numbers.

“The early voters march got 780 voters, 650 of them were students, to the polls early. We want to see this number increase,” George said. “The goals is to bring the students out and bring the community out in record numbers to vote. It’s something to empower the student body to use their rights.”

Tyus said the workshop answered a key question.

“The workshop answered the question what are my voting rights,” Tyus said. “The workshop was an excellent venue to get questions answered on voting,” Tyus said. “A lot of positive information was given on what will happen in the upcoming Nov.5 election.”

Courtney Laws agrees.

“The workshop enlightened me on the importance of voting,” said Laws, 18, a freshman business administration student from Philadelphia. “I know what rights as a voter that I am entitled to.”