Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 2 - Public Service
Community Awareness Program's Voter Awareness Campaign 2006
Vicki Collins & Joni Schopke, Lee County Election

Golden Image Award
Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: The number of people registered to vote in Lee County has increased but voter turnout for Lee County’s elections has declined. The 2000 General election had a 74.71% voter turnout, the 2002 General election had a 57% voter turnout, and the 2006 General election had a 47.67% voter turnout. The Community Awareness Program (CAP) was created in 2002 to educate voters on the new voting machines. In 2003 CAP grew to provide voter registration, voter info updates, election info, early voting info and accept absentee ballot requests. In order to comply with Florida Statute 98.255 requirement to provide voter education in our community, and promote voter awareness, CAP continued to increase the number of voter registration drives conducted at local events each year. In 2005, CAP participated in 119 events where we provided 5,164 people with our services, increased voter registration by 463 new voters, updated 242 voter’s info, and gave 2,239 hands-on demos of the voting machines. We partnered with three local organizations to conduct mock elections that allowed us to increase new voter registrations, update voter information, provide election information, accept absentee ballot requests and provide hands-on demos of the voting machines to large groups of people.

Objectives: Objectives to be achieved between Jan. 1. 2006 and Dec. 31, 2006: 1.To promote awareness of the importance of voter participation in the electoral process by conducting 10% more voter registration drives/events than in 2005. 2. To increase the number of people who receive our services at voter registration drives/events and mock elections by 25% more than in 2005. 3. To improve voter registration by increasing the number of new voter registrations and voter information updates at events by 20% more than in 2005. 4.To help voters become more comfortable using Lee County’s voting machines by increasing the number of hands-on education demos by 25% more than in 2005. 5. To encourage active public participation in elections by conducting 200% more mock elections than 2005.

Implementation: Our year began with a brainstorming session to strategically plan how to effectively achieve our objectives. We incorporated the use of a patriotic color scheme of red, white & blue with all decorations, giveaways, tents, banners, and dress code that maximized CAP’s exposure by creating a brand image that promoted recognition in the community. We used “look for us under the red, white & blue tents” throughout the year in press releases, to help media locate us at large events, and on our Sample Ballots at mock elections to direct people where to vote. (Samples of press releases and sample ballots are in book.) We partnered with as many local businesses/organizations in every part of the county to promote awareness of the importance of voter participation in the electoral process, increase the number of new voter registrations and info updates, and provide hands-on demos of the voting machines. We planned our “Register to Vote at Work” during the month of June, where we partnered with local businesses and provided our services to their employees in an easy and convenient manner. We associated with the Lee County Library System to conduct voter registration drives at area libraries. These drives helped us to reach people in every part of the county. We checked city & county websites, newspapers and local magazines for festivals and events to include in the list of opportunities. We conducted drives everywhere large groups of people were, this included: Bike Nights, Pirate Days, Mango Mania, Jazz events, concerts, 4th of July celebrations, etc. While out in the community new contacts were made that created partnerships and offered new opportunities for us to achieve our objectives. We participated at candidate forums throughout the county. CAP partnered with local sports teams, businesses, clubs, and organizations to conduct mock elections. They were one of our most fun and interactive means by which we accomplished our goals. Mock elections are conducted exactly like real elections: set the date, staff it, prepare staff duty list, prepare the ballot, prepare and pass out sample ballots, promote the election, pack the equipment, head to the polling location, conduct the election and hope for high voter participation.

Evaluation: The Community Awareness Program achieved and exceeded all of it’s objectives between Jan. 1, 2006 and Dec. 30, 2006 and had a very successful Voter Awareness Campaign 2006! 1. CAP had 150 voter registration drive/events, an increase of over 25%. 2. CAP provided services to 8,080 people at events, an increase of over 35%. 3. New voter registrations and voter information updates were 1,059, an increase of 50%. 4. CAP provided 4,266 hands-on demos, an increase of over 90%. 5. Our mock elections increased over 300% with 11 conducted in 2006.

Budget: Part time CAP staff hours: 1,449 CAP Staff hours: 4,873.25 Total Hours: 6,322.25
Decorations & Supplies: $6,661.56 Event Fees: CAP is a local government and provides a community service at events, so 147 events either waived their fees or did not have one. Only 3 events charged CAP with a total of $300 spent. Total Cash: $6,961.56