Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Sedgwick County Voter Coalition begins work on a collaborative Voter Education Strategy

First, let me give you guys a little background. Last year (06) Sedgwick County switched to Electronic Voting Machines. When they made the switch, they reduced the number of voting machines by 70%!

We were all relatively unfamiliar with the new machines and unclear on the potential impact, so we decided we'd give it a chance. We decided to closely observe that next election cycle. So during the Wichita Mayoral election, several members of our Political Action committee volunteered to serve as Poll watchers. Other organizations with similar concerns did the same. While we didn't observe any irregularities, we did notice two distinct problems... First, there were a large number of people who didn't know where there new polling place was. And the second was that there were some areas that were clearly underserved with polling places and machines. Some precincts had voter to machine ratios as high as 549:1

Shortly thereafter Ernestine Krebiel and Betty Ladwig of the League of Women Voters called together a meeting of organizations who were interested in election issues and we 'compared notes'. From that meeting, the Sedgwick County Voter Coalition was born.

Last month, the coalition was able to get the Board of County Commissioners to earmark $100,000.00 from the '08 budget for the purchase of new voting machines. And on Monday night, we (the coalition) met and agreed that we would work together to draft a new multi-organizational Voter Education Campaign that will provide information about Polling Places, Advance Voting, Advance Ballots, and other election options.

Organizational members of the Sedgwick County Voter Coalition include the Wichita Branch NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Urban League of Kansas, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, MANA de Wichita, the Wichita Machinists Union, Church Women United, the Global Learning Center, the Kansas Sunshine Coalition, the Democratic Party of Sedgwick County, the GOP Club of Sedgwick County, Republican Women of Sedgwick County, Kansas Latino Democratic Caucus, the Peace & Social Justice Center, AARP of Kansas (Wichita Chapter), and others...

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