Senator Chris Smith announces civics call to action for South Florida students
74,000 eligible African American voters target of non-partisan Get-Out-The-Vote Drive
By Michelle Demarco
Throughout neighborhoods and communities in Broward County, local high school students are walking the streets and knocking on doors to remind an older generation that the obligation to vote doesn’t end with a presidential campaign.
The effort is part of a sweeping civics call to action led by Senator Chris Smith (D-Fort Lauderdale).
“In the 2012 presidential election, more than 90,000 African Americans voted than in the 2010 general election,” said Sen. Smith. “Of that number, we’ve identified 74,000 voters still eligible, still living in the same place, who we’re trying to reach to remind them of an upcoming election that will impact them in their daily lives as much, if not more, than the last presidential one.”
The campaign to enlist area high school students is part of a broader Get Out The Vote (GOTV) push Sen. Smith is spearheading from his Fort Lauderdale GOTV office. In tandem with community organizers and activists, home-owner groups, and sororities and fraternities, the non-partisan drive for voter turnout began earlier this week, with the mission of getting absentee ballot requests to the intended 74,000 eligible voters. Each night and on weekends, the volunteers and students will continue to fan out in their communities to reach and engage those voters in this November’s elections.
With the support of local school principals and student government organizations, high school students will earn community service credit for graduation, as well as be in the running for donated prizes for the most service earned.
The voter outreach will continue until Election Day itself. Beginning on Sunday, Nov. 2, 2014 a one-mile walk to kick-off “Souls to the Polls” will be held along historic Sistrunk Boulevard, ending at the African-American Resource Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) where community members can cast their ballots during the last day of early voting. A rally will also be held at the library from 2 to 6 p.m., and more than 1000 people are expected to join about 30 churches and organizations, gospel singers, and fraternities and sororities from throughout the area to celebrate democracy in action.
On Election Day itself, Tuesday, Nov. 4, Sen. Smith will be working hand-in-hand with the same groups of students as well as enlisting the help of varsity football teams to remind folks who haven’t yet voted, to do so in person at their local polling locations before voting ends at 7 p.m. that day. “We’re going to knock on every door,” he said.
For more information on the upcoming civics engagement events, please contact Sen. Smith at his GOTV office at 1134 NW Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale 33311 or contact him at (954) 321-2705.