Residents throughout the state of Florida residents are gearing up for the 2018 November election. This year’s election could not only produce the state’s first African-American governor, but could also be the turning point in the fight for voting restoration rights for thousands of people.
Organizations like Dream Defenders Action and the Florida Student Power Network are doing their part to ensure votes are prepared to participate in this influential election.
Dream Defenders Action is a human rights organization dedicated to not only ending systemic police and state brutality toward people of color but also ending the school-to-prison pipeline. Its aim is to shift the culture through transformational organizing.
Dream Defenders North Florida regional organizer Dewayne Johnson is planning a “Pre-game to the Polls” block party, set to take place from 1-5 p.m. Saturday on Perry Street. Johnson hopes to increase voter activity among local residents.
“Over the course of these past few months it has been our experience that people of color in lower income communities have low voting engagement activity. This is largely attributed by the lack of transportation provided to people in these communities,” said Johnson.
“We want to ensure that people are comfortable with answering each question on the ballot and that they are fully informed. It is imperative that people understand that this particular election features the most amendments we’ve ever had on a ballot”.
Dream Defenders and Florida Student Power Network are partnering with other organizations like Vote Mob, Ben & Jerry’s, FRRC, Florida A&M University to organize the “Pre-game to the Polls” block party. The block party will be a community-oriented event where attendees can indulge in free food, music and games.
The block party will take place behind FAMU’s Bragg Memorial Stadium on Perry Street.
FAMU student Jasmine Williams, a junior accounting major, is excited to attend the event.
“I hadn’t heard about the event but this is something I definitely want to go to. I know a lot about the Democratic candidates running for governor, but not, like, the amendments. I think I could get some insight from this”.
Educating people on the amendments that will appear on the November ballot is a main goal of Johnson’s.
“Oftentimes when you go to events about voting, there’s just something about registering people to vote. We’re trying to turn this thing over on its head. We want to ensure that people are able to be mobilized to the polls and we want to ensure that people are fully informed about what’s on the ballot,” said Johnson.
Ayanna Harris, a junior biology pre-med student from St. Petersburg, is thankful for the event.
“I’m glad something like this is happening. I think there are so many people who want to make a difference but don’t know what to do and responsible voting it the first step,” said Harris.
In a fight to increase participation in the upcoming election, many local churches have volunteered to drive local residents to early voting precincts the week before the election.