Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boring Race No Excuse Not to Vote

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Boring Race No Excuse Not to Vote

Article excerpt

Convincing residents in poorer communities to realize they have

the power to take back their neighborhoods can be tough.

Tougher still is getting many of those residents to wield that

power through voting. Especially when it comes to voting for

judges.

Not that Lloyd Pearson Jr. hasn't tried.

Pearson, who is 74 and a longtime member of the Jacksonville

branch of the NAACP, has been a volunteer voter registrar since

1980. He has been relentless in registering some of the city's

neediest residents, often cornering them at daybreak at food

stamp and welfare offices, including one of the city's largest

on Golfair Boulevard.

But on Sept. 3, only 17 percent of the 25,384 registered voters

in that Northwest Jacksonville district, which includes the

Eastside and Springfield, went to the polls.

Don't try rationalizing that low turnout to Pearson by saying

that voters in that area weren't much more apathetic than voters

citywide, where 20 percent of those registered voted. Or that it

was the day after Labor Day. Or that it's hard to get people

excited about voting for judges.

It won't wash.

"A lot of people say to me that non-partisan elections are

confusing, and that they'd just rather wait until the

presidential elections to vote," Pearson said. "But I ask them:

When your kid gets put in jail, do you call on the president? Of

course not. You call on the State Attorney's Office. You look to

the judge handling the case for justice.

"But these days, people will say that they don't vote, like

it's no big deal," lamented Pearson, who said he has been

dismayed by the numbers of voters in poorer, predominantly black

districts who have been dropped from the rolls for lack of

participation. "Yet, these are the people who need the power of

the ballot the most. …

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