To avert encountering an election as problematic as that of 2000, Leon County Supervisor of Elections, Ion Sancho, is taking preemptive measures to assure this year’s voting is not like the scene of four years ago.
One of those tactics is early voting. Introduced to Leon County 10 years ago, early voting has been one issue charged with change. According to Sancho, in 1999, its popularity led to the instatement of rules to govern the process. This past year, a mandate in all Florida counties has created the option of voting up to two weeks in advance of Election Day.
Citizens of Broward and Dade counties helped bring about the change to lessen the counties’ vulnerability of touch screen voting. Sancho said in its history, early voting has accounted for as much as 25 percent of the entire vote.
Lauren Grant, the Student Government Association director of student lobbying and chairwoman of the Florida A&M University Vote Coalition said early voting is “imperative for our age group and student body as a prevention of disenfranchisement [and provides an] easier way to facilitate the electoral process.”
In the past, voting on Election Day left voters feeling vulnerable to the weaknesses in the electoral process. In the event, ballots were lost in transit or confusion arose, Sancho said there was no way to prevent the loss of thousands of votes.
According to Sancho, the institution of early voting was set up to counteract culturally biased voting practices of the past. While the procedure makes voting more accessible and convenient for underprivileged and minority voters, Sancho is looking to increase its helpfulness.
As of now, the only places available to vote before Election Day are City Hall, select local libraries and the actual election office. Early voting is also beneficial in ushering in new voters. Meanwhile, Sancho advised mail-in voting as well.
The students of FAMU are answering the rallying cry to utilize early voting with the efforts of several organizations on campus. With the assistance of SGA, the Vote Coalition will provide shuttles for students to get to the select locations where voting will be available prior to Election Day.
According to Brandon Johnson, 21, a fourth-year history education student from Detroit, FAMU SGA will be welcoming Def Jam’s hip-hop voting bus onto campus next Friday. It will be in Tallahassee until the following Monday to transport students to voting facilities.
The FAMU Vote Coalition will be helping with “Operation Wake-Up” to encourage voters to get out to the polls early. “Operation Wake-Up” is a movement started by a group of students in Bill Proctor’s Introduction to Political Science course. The students plan to unify the voices of the three Tallahassee institutions: FAMU, Tallahassee Community College and Florida State University.
Johnson said the movement will consist of a week of political revival that starts on Oct. 25. The culmination of the week will take place on Oct. 27 when the three schools will march up different major streets of Tallahassee and converge at the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center. From there, they will walk students representing all three schools to the courthouse to vote.
Also conducted by the Vote Coalition, on Oct. 25 there will be a rally where speakers will inform students about political issues and voting rights. On Oct. 26, the coalition will be airing a non-partisan movie, “Unprecedented,” in Lee Hall Auditorium. It will further inform students about the voting process.
Grace Quaintance, a 21-year old senior architecture student from Seffner supports the electoral process.
“It is a good way to prevent a voting catastrophe,” Quaintance said.
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