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Organizing For America opens office

October 11, 2012
By MEL TOADVINE (mtoadvine@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Volunteers have been visiting Lehigh residents to encourage them to register for the past few weeks. Working out an office at 411 Lee Blvd., they and other volunteers are giving their time under the auspices of Organizing For America, a grounds-root effort to get people registered. They have forms for unregistered voters to fill out and that information is sent to the Board of Election Supervisors in Fort Myers.

Eze Wokocha, a volunteer for Organizing For America, said folks should be sure to change the information on their voting records if they have moved or have changed their name. And for those who have not voted before, it is a chance to become a registered voter.

Organizing For America is located in the Jim Phoebus Building that housed The Lehigh Acres Citizen for several years. It is diagonally across from Truly Nolen and is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Article Photos

Eze Wokocha

Wokocha said the grass-roots effort is operated in Lehigh under the auspices of Organizing For America in Fort Myers. The office is manned by two staffers most days and often with volunteers who have stopped to get information or to get help to register.

The office held a small grand opening last week but it does not advertise or promote itself except by word of mouth, according to one of the women in the office who helps to run the operation. The two women said they could give their names, saying it was policy and that the names of volunteers were more important than theirs.

It is probably because they support Obama but are not allowed to promote him as their job is educating people about the voting process and how to register.

However, Wokocha, one of the volunteers, had no problem talking about the effort by Organizing For America.

"We are here trying to educate people about voting which is their responsibility as a citizen. We tell them about the deadlines and if they need to change information on their voter registration. We explain about early voting and how to obtain absentee ballots.

"We want everyone to have that opportunity to vote, whichever way they choose. But first they must be registered."

Sometimes, someone will stop by and ask if they need a photo ID to vote on November 6. Wokocha said he tells them not in Florida, but said it was advisable to take their voter registration card with them when they vote. That card is mailed to everyone by the Office of the Supervisor of Elections.

"And we make sure they know which precinct they go to vote," Wokocha said.

"We try to keep up with them after they have registered and let them know that if they have no transportation to the polls, volunteers will provide a ride," he said.

The deadline for registration is Oct. 9, three days from the publication of The Citizen this week. Those who have not yet registered and don't want to drive to Fort Myers may stop by the office and get help.

When one enters the office at 411 Lee Blvd., it would appear that it is an Obama campaign office. There are photos of Obama on the walls and lots of other Obama promotional materials around the office. But Wokocha and the two unnamed staffers, say they are not officially an Obama campaign office.

"The office here is mainly aimed at getting people out to vote, to make sure they are registered, etc., but the organization supports President Obama for reelection. But we don't talk or campaign for him verbally," Wokocha said.

One of the staffers said they should however have Obama campaign materials in the office by this week. Such things as bumper stickers and placards, which supporters for Obama can purchase at a nominee fee.

Wokocha said each volunteer has a prepared list given to them to visit. Usually the list if composed of around 21 names and volunteers are asked to get in touch with each of those people to offer them help in becoming registered.

Wokocha also said people who are interested in knowing their voting status can contact the office.

"For instance, many people who have been convicted of a felony have in the past not been able to vote. But the state has changed the laws and many of them now can vote. He said anyone in that status should contact the office immediately or call the Office of the Supervisor of Elections in Fort Myers if they want to vote on Nov. 6.

When asked why the two women who staff the office can't be named or photographed, they said it is because their emphasis is on those who have become volunteers.

"We are not important; volunteers and voters are. Like we said, it is a grass-roots organization," one of the women said.

And there is no connection with any other group in Lehigh that has also been working to help people to register to vote, one of the women said.

Wokocha added: "We just want to get as many people to register and then to vote. We don't push either party or either candidate. We just want them to take responsibility as a citizen and vote their choice."

 
 

 

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