By Dr. Dorsey C. Miller Jr.
In case you missed it, the 2018 election cycle is already underway. Candidates from school board and the courthouse to the U.S. Senate are running hard, hoping to get your vote.
What happens next depends on you.
Broward County is significant in Florida’s political circles. It is home to the greatest concentration of Democrats in the state, and it has the second largest number of Republican voters.
As goes this county, so goes Florida.
Of the 1.1 million voters in Broward County, 280,563 are Black. That’s almost one in every four voters living here. The question is how many of us will actually go to the polls and vote?
The numbers from past elections collected by the Broward County Supervisor of Elections suggest we can do better:
- Only one of five registered Black voters in Broward County came out to vote in the 2016 August primary.
- A respectable 71 percent of Black voters turned out for the 2016 presidential election, a smaller percentage when compared to the turnout of white voters in the county.
- Only 2,571 – a measly 8.6 percent — of the 29,925 registered Black voters in Fort Lauderdale made it to the polls for the March election.
We are just weeks away from the August 28th primary, which in a sense is the playoff before the November 6th general election. The primary gives voters a chance to choose which Democratic and Republican candidates for county, state and federal offices get to run in the November elections. It is also the time to pick the men and women who will serve as judges in our courts. Judgeships are critical, but often overlooked contests.
Unfortunately, turnout in the midterm primary elections has been historically low. Poor turnout this year can hamper efforts to unify and mobilize voters to go to the polls in November.
Turnout is the name of the game. To win, candidates must pay attention to voter turnout patterns. Simply put: Candidates go where the votes are. If you don’t vote, you just don’t count.
To help boost voter participation and to raise awareness of the importance of this year’s elections, the Florida Voter Mobilization Project (FVMP) is again conducting a voter-education campaign to inform communities of color about the importance of this particular election cycle.
Working with church leaders, community groups and our fraternities and sororities, the FVMP not only hopes to get people to the polls but also to inform them of the various rules, procedures and deadlines to ensure that every vote will count.
Make no mistake; this is a pivotal election year, particularly for Broward’s black communities.
On August 28th, our vote will determine whether Black men can become Florida’s next governor and attorney general, whether our courts will have more judges who will dispense fair justice over quick incarceration, and whether our schools can finally become safe havens that truly educate our kids.
There is simply too much at stake to have Broward’s Black voters sit on the sidelines. The time for talk has passed. Now is the time to register and prepare for the polls. It’s time to vote!
Dr. Dorsey C. Miller Jr. is chairman of the Florida Voter Mobilization Project.