AKA Sorority tackles rural voter turnout in Florida, push early voting
By Jodi Yonder
Special to the Outlook
Florida is famous for its razor thin statewide election margins. And for the last 20 years, the nail-biting phenomenon has been the only certainty voters and candidates are assured of when all the ballots are counted.
In Election 2020 the Florida chapters of the nation’s oldest African American Greek sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha has launched an effort to increase Black voter participation in rural counties with significant Black voter population.
Around 50 rural counties have historically made the difference in the outcomes of major races. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum lost to Gov. Ron DeSantis by just over 30,000 votes. But for US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat, the loss by around 10,000 votes to former governor Rick Scott, after a recount, was stunning. In both races, Black turnout in the overlooked rural counties could have made the difference.
Capitol City Connection Chairmen Gayle Andrews of Delta Kappa Omega and Gina Henderson of Chi Upsilon Omega were guided by the sorority’s national mandate “AKAs LEAD” to the Polls to develop virtual rallies, Florida AKA’s Stroll to the Polls. Florida Connection Coordinator Veronica E. Phillips and Florida South Atlantic Regional Representative to the International Connection Committee Sylvia Sloane Jones provided leadership in the mobilization of 37 chapters that have adopted rural counties for phone banking during early voting in Florida from Oct. 19 – Nov. 1.
“The Alpha Kappa Alpha mantra is “Service to All Mankind.” That has not changed in 112 years. Our focus on humanity equates to improving quality of life,” said Carolyn Gause Randolph, South Atlantic Regional Director. “Participating in democracy achieves that end. Participation in the democratic process is the path to progress. And we will LEAD in 2020.”
The Florida AKA has two virtual rallies scheduled — The Old School on Oct. 17 and a Hip Hop for millennials on Oct. 24. The Sunshine State sorors also produced an infomercial on voting early by mail. The Florida AKAs are the first Black Greek sorority to initiate a coordinated campaign effort in Florida, a major battleground state.