Published On: Fri, Aug 5th, 2016

Locals Hoping to Rock the Vote By Registering Youth Voters

With the two raucous weeks of conventions behind us, voters have begun the three-month process of interviewing the two candidates who are vying to be the next Commander-in-Chief.

C.-Ron-AllenAnd as we enter the final stretch of this election season, a team of local churches and community groups have made outreach to new voters, in particular those between ages 18 and 25, a priority.

That is why they are on a mission to register 1,000 youth on Saturday, Aug. 20 at two churches in Delray Beach.

The effort, organized by the KOP Mentoring Network, will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, 40 NW 4th Ave., and Christ Missionary Baptist Church, 125 SW 8th Ave.

Over the next three months, team members will be canvassing the local high schools and talking to the high school students eligible to vote, said Robert Dodd, of KOPMN. They will also be discussing best practices for voter registration drives with college students across Palm Beach County.

The group has planned a series of voter registration drives in partnership with the Palm Beach County League of Woman’s Voters and the Supervisor of Elections to register millennial voters who can vote in 2016, Dodd said. 

“Our millennial voters are more than 80 million strong and growing, and as the largest living generation, they have the power to define our future,” said Percy Alexander, a member of Omega Psi Fraternity, one of the organizations involved in the movement. “That’s why we want to ensure that their voices are heard and they can shape our country’s history on Election Day.”

In 2012, millennial voters proved to be critical to President Barack Obama’s election and both parties have since recognized the need to better engage young people moving forward. This election is even more crucial.

Just last month we observed the 45th anniversary of the ratification of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Still, sadly, most of the more than 4 million Americans turning 18 this presidential election year will not be casting a ballot.

To register, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen, a Florida resident and will be 18 or older by Election Day. They must have a driver’s license or ID number, as well as the last four digits of a social security number. A voter identification card will be mailed two to three weeks after the application is processed. They also cannot be on parole or on post-release community supervision.

And while the spirited political contest for the next president will not be decided until November, there are a lot of very important local candidate races and ballot issues that will be decided in the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 30.

Volunteers will be on hand at both sites on Aug. 20 to drive registered voters to the polls for early voting, said Wanda Gadson, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, South Palm Beach County Alumnae Chapter, another participating organization.

“This will not be your normal election. Therefore, our approach will have to be strategically different,” she said. “All one had to do was to watch the recent coverages of the conventions to see the importance of us voting as a people. That’s why we need to register every eligible potential voter and get every registered voter to the polls.

  1. Ron Allen can be reached at crallen@DelrayBeachTribune.com or 561-665-0151.

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