The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office has won an international award for elections, winning a first-place honor for reaching first-time voters, from the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies’ International Electoral Awards.
The award put the Seminole County office on the same stage as elections’ honorees from Australia, Ecuador, Ireland, Canada, and Mexico, among other countries. The only other American elections’ office to win one of the awards was from Los Angeles.
Seminole County won in the category of the First Time Voter Award, with honorable mentions being given to the Permanent Electoral Authority of Romania, and The League of Young Voters of the United Kingdom.
Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel did not attend the awards ceremony, held in Jordan. Dean Logan, county clerk for the Los Angeles County Registrar, picked it up for him.
Ertel said the award recognizes the efforts Seminole County has undertaken to register new voters in high schools, and then to engage them in thinking about how much power their votes give them. He said he’ll go into a high school, register the students to vote, and then tell them they’ve just gained power. He said invariably the students respond with “yeah, right,” attitudes and grumbling about the lack of power of young people.
He’s set them up.
After engaging them in a town-hall conversation about what things they’d like to see changed, and still getting some skeptical, cynical responses, Ertel calls on someone he’s planted in the back of the room, or calls someone on the phone and puts the speaker next to the microphone. A mayor. A school board chairman. Some other elected official. And that person then explains what 200 votes from that auditorium would do to his or her next election.
“It’s really cool,” Ertel said. “The students eat it up.”
This is the second major award his office has won recently. Last week Ertel announced his offices website had won a “Golden Web Award” from the The International Association of Web Masters and Designers,