Group ready to ‘March Out’ to Courthouse

In an effort to encourage early voting and to promote voter awareness in young people, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor and the student organization Operation Wake Up are presenting March Out 2004.

The week of initiatives begins today at 11 a.m. starting with a march from the Florida A&M University Student Union to a rally at the Leon County Courthouse and concludes Nov. 2 with an election party at Club Deep.

Operation Wake Up is a 13-member non-partisan student consortium encompassing students from FAMU, Florida State and Tallahassee Community College. It was created to increase the number of registered and educated voters from 18-24 years of age.

On each day during the March Out 2004 Week, from today through Nov. 1, Operation Wake Up will be targeting a different group for early voting and voter education.

Today’s focus is high school and college students, Thursday’s is senior citizens, Friday’s is workers and women and the weekend will be aimed at churches and communities.

The final early voting day will be dedicated to professionals, fathers and community organizations.

According to the Youth Vote Coalition, in the last presidential election only 42 percent of citizens 18-24 voted, a total of 27,000 votes went uncounted and just 537 votes decided the outcome of the election. These are just a few reasons organizers say they created March Out 2004.

“We cannot continue to stand by and let the injustices that we have faced, go on,” said organizer

Brandon A. Johnson in a press release for the event. “We must lead by example and show the world that we are concerned with issues and we have an opinion about them.”

Proctor says this election must be different and encourages every eligible voter in District One to vote early.

“The power to elect the president of the United States lies in the hands of voters in Tallahassee’s urban core and south central communities. This reality was shown in the 2000 election,” Proctor said in a press statement. “The power to choose our leaders for local, state and national office is grounded in the wills of voters who live and work in the eyesight and shadow of the State’s Capitol Building and state complexes.”

Proctor partnered with Operation Wake Up and March Out 2004 when Johnson and Derrick W. Wright II, two of his students, came to him with the idea. They expressed their concern that neither presidential candidate was truly addressing the issues pertinent to the young black community.

“He thought it was important because of the fact that two black men made the initiative. He wanted to show that he supports the students,” said Rikkia Relford an aide for Proctor and coordinator for March Out 2004. “We are proud that students are taking this initiative.”

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