Seminole Elections picks Hispanic Heritage Month to unveil new outreach technology

Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel and his staff are at it again. This time reaching out to Hispanic voters. This is terrific stuff. Please, take a moment to check out this article that features next level tech in getting Central Floridians to the polls.

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The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections office is often on the cutting edge of voter outreach, and again set the pace this weekend with the first usage of a QR code that directly links to the office’s Spanish-language website, www.VotoSeminole.org. The QR code was used on the ballots for the Hispanic Chamber’s Latin Food and Wine Festival, which was attended by nearly 8,000 people, according to organizers. The office was chosen to count the votes for the festival’s “Best Of…” competition and the ballots also had the QR code directing voters to the elections office’s Spanish-language website, VotoSeminole.org, with links to information about upcoming elections, registration and absentee ballot request forms, as well as sample ballots in Spanish. (more info about QR code technology here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code).

The office, which last year was the first in the country to map its polling locations into FourSquare, launched its first QR code last month, which directed mobile phone users directly to the office’s Facebook or Twitter page, and the office website www.VoteSeminole.org. On the site, users can immediately access voter registration forms, absentee ballot request forms, information about upcoming elections and a host of other items.

QR codes are fast becoming a staple in communicating to the public, as an increasing number of newspaper and magazine advertisements are adding the little square black-and-white logo to the corner of their ads. Mobile phone users can scan the QR code and be sent directly to either a website or phone number of the advertiser. Supervisor of Elections Michael Ertel says, “Creating the QR code costs the elections office no money, but the addition of a technology many younger consumers use to interact with retailers and using it in a government setting creates a relationship with younger citizens, and lets them know the elections are efficient as well as trustworthy.”

The office took part by registering and informing voters in several other Hispanic Heritage Month activities throughout the month, including celebrations at Seminole State College and providing voter registration forms and information to attendees at the anniversary celebration of the area’s largest Spanish-language weekly newspaper, La Prensa. The office’s efforts in the Hispanic community have produced positive results for years, as in the last presidential election, Seminole County had the highest Hispanic voter registration rate among Florida’s large counties, as well as the highest Hispanic voter turnout rate. In 2012, the office will expand its scope of services to the Hispanic community by having election ballots and samples printed in Spanish as well as English at polling locations.

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