On Presidential Preference Primary day on March 17th, almost two dozen LWVPBC volunteers worked with Florida Election Protection Coalition to ensure that every eligible voter had an opportunity to vote and have their vote counted.

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The EP Coalition is a national, non-partisan organization, made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners. Normally, voter education and assistance would be provided by EP poll monitors standing outside polling places and talking directly with voters to inform them of their rights.

But in this age of COVID-19, we had to get creative so that we were all kept safe. A “mobile monitoring system” was established, with volunteers driving by select polling places from West Palm, to Belle Glade to Riviera Beach to Boynton Beach and Delray to check if there were problems. Our EP volunteers did discover issues: late-opening or even closed polling places, non-existent or inadequate signs, machines not working, voters referred to the SOE’s office to file VBM only to find long long lines at the SOE’s office. We were able to triage some problems and escalate others and help voters avoid trouble spots.

Our volunteers also engaged in “virtual monitoring” of the SOE’s Facebook page, twitter account and website, the Palm Beach Post, and local TV stations’ twitter accounts. The experiences of voters reported on social media and the observations of the mobile monitors were shared in real-time with the Florida EP organizers on WhatsApp and this resulted in calls to the SOE’s office and to the hotline of the Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The EP Coalition analyzed the issues found across the state so that we can try to get SOEs to correct problems before the August primary.

We gained experience. We saw lots of problems, little and big. Most of all: we helped voters vote, we learned a lot of valuable information about PBC polling locations, and we sent good information to the EP Coalition. Thank you all for your help! If you would like to be an EP poll monitor in August or November, please contact Nancy Cohen, nancyecohen1@icloud.com.