VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR ELECTION DAY-Andrew Stelzer

07/01/04

PARTNERS IN DEMOCRACY

Hillsborough county election supervisor Buddy Johnson kicked off the “partners in democracy� campaign this morning. The aim of the campaign is to try and get companies to give their employees two paid days off so that they can volunteer on Election Day. WMNFs Andrew Stelzer has this report, plus a few comments from Buddy Johnson about the felon voter purge list.

ACT ‘Depending on the persons level of experience we have many opportunities…�

Elections supervisor Buddy Johnson says that Hillsborough county hopes to have at least 3500 hundred volunteers for election day; they already have about 80 percent of the volunteers that they need—these people can work as clerks, phone bank operators, inspectors, technicians or several other positions. Volunteers have to commit work both the primary election—August 31st, and the general election day—November 2nd; There is also one half day of training in advance of election day.

ACT ‘People are busy; we have to let people know that we need their help.

There are currently 750,000 people living in Hillsborough County who are eligible to vote. But only 580,000 will go to the polls in November, which is 40 thousand more than in the last presidential election. There is a particular need for Spanish speaking volunteers; at this point there will be many polling places with no Spanish-speaking volunteers.

ACT ‘We try to have a Spanish speaking individual in each precinct that people speak Spanish. We are constantly looking….there are precincts that are minimally populated by Spanish speakers…maybe we will have a Spanish speaker in each precinct. The goal would be to have 359 poll workers where we could have 1 in each polling place. I would encourage the Spanish speaking community will help us.�

Currently, less than 20 companies have committed to letting their employees participate in the Partners in Democracy program, Johnson said he is hoping that they can get 80 companies to participate.

ACT ‘Those who are retired, 17 year olds, service clubs, but primarily from experience the dependability is greatest from corporate…�

Johnson was asked about how he is planning to increase minority participation; he addition to the call out for Spanish speaking volunteers, he said the NAACP has asked for a sample voting machine in their office, so that people can practice and feel comfortable on election day--Johnson said he is working on making that happen. When WMNF asked Johnson about people who come in to vote and are told that they are ineligible because they are on the list of convicted felons—a list that was highly inaccurate in 2000.

ACT “If a person comes in a for whatever reason, and they are marked as a felon, they can vote in a provisional ballot…�

In May, Buddy Johnson told WMNF that by June 15th, he would be sending out letters to all county residents who’s names are on the county’s list of felons ineligible to vote, and give them a chance to correct the record if its incorrect. He hasn’t yet sent out those letters; WMNF asked him why?

SOUND-Q and A

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is August 2nd, for the general election, the registration is October 4th. To find out about volunteer opportunities on Election Day, call 813-272-5850

For WMNF news, I’m Andrew Stelzer

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