Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

She's Known Politics, but Never Entered Voting Booth; This Neptune Beach Resident Registered to Vote for the First Time at 69

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

She's Known Politics, but Never Entered Voting Booth; This Neptune Beach Resident Registered to Vote for the First Time at 69

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Catherine McDaniels, 69, will soon resolve the mystery of what goes on in the voting booth.

For the first time in her life, McDaniels of Neptune Beach registered to vote. She filled out the form Friday that Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland brought to her at the Neptune Beach Senior Activity Center.

Through the years, McDaniels had let political candidates place signs in her yard and she discussed current events with her husband while they read newspapers and watched television news.

But she was busy caring for her family, raising eight children and four stepchildren, and they moved often through the years. Her husband died four years ago and she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law in Neptune Beach.

She said she realized last week that no one had ever encouraged her to register. That is until Elaine Brown, who is campaigning for state representative in District 18, which includes the Beaches, knocked on her door. They talked and McDaniels got nervous.

"Here I am talking about politics and I'm not even registered to vote," she recalled, wincing and covering her face with her hands.

Brown said she was stunned by the confession. She went back to McDaniels' home and urged her to register.

"I would like to [vote], just one time," McDaniels said.

As of late May, there were 485,777 registered voters in Duval County. McDaniels was one of about 200,000 people who aren't. The reasons vary, but it's not unusual to hear skeptics question whether their one vote will make a difference, Holland said.

The elections office is working on curing people's apathy. Last month, elections staff registered 7,714 high school students, which includes about 600 at Fletcher High. Many of the students were 16 to 18 years old. Due to a new state law, they could pre-register as long as they had a valid Florida driver's license. …

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