Deborah Poulalion, a data analyst and community activist, announced her campaign for Seminole County Supervisor of Elections this week.
“I believe we need to put aside partisan politics and focus on making sure citizens in Seminole County are registered and enabled to vote,” Poulalion said. “While voters in the counties around us have received services that provide better access to voting, Seminole County has been left behind.”
Poulalion strongly supports early voting at Seminole State College, particularly for general elections. “About half of the 14,000 students who take classes at the Sanford/Lake Mary campus are from Seminole County, meaning thousands of eligible voters are on campus every day.” Poulalion commented, “In the 2016 general election, the Longwood Elementary School building was used as an early voting site, but SSC would be a much better choice for 2020.”
“We need to reach out to our next generation of voters,” Poulalion said, “Turnout for voters age 18 to 24 in Florida increased from 18% to 30% from 2014 to 2018. But their turnout is still far lower than the average for all age groups of 53%.”
Poulalion would also implement more structured voter registration and education programs at all public high schools.
Another key issue is that early voting should include two full weekends, especially Souls to the Polls Sunday. This is a national event when African American churches encourage their parishioners to vote together on the final Sunday before an election. Seminole County’s polls were closed on that day during the 2018 primary election, while polls were open in nearby Orange, Volusia, and Osceola counties.
Finally, to simplify voting by mail, Poulalion wants to provide a postage-paid envelope with every mail-in ballot. “Two stamps should never be a barrier to voting,” Poulalion commented. “Orange and Osceola counties provide this service to their voters already, and we can, too.”
“To offset the costs for these initiatives,” Poulalion said, “much of the funds that are currently spent on marketing and public relations for the supervisor of elections office can be reallocated. The budget needs to focus on serving the voter, not promoting the office holder.”
Poulalion has professional expertise as a data analyst, writer, editor, and educator. She is employed at the Institute of Internal Auditors in Lake Mary where she analyzes survey data and produces research findings. “As a data professional, I am committed to the detail and accuracy needed to be a supervisor of elections.”
Poulalion recognizes that cybersecurity is a top concern since election offices in two Florida counties were hacked by Russia in 2018. To protect voting in Seminole County, Poulalion would follow directives from the Florida Secretary of State and recommendations from the Best Practices for Securing Election Systems from the Department of Homeland Security.
Poulalion has been a leader in local voter registration efforts, including outreach to those whose voting rights were restored by Amendment 4. “Every voice matters in our democracy, and it has been incredibly moving to talk with people with past felony convictions who can now vote after years of waiting.”
Poulalion, who is affiliated with the Democratic Party, has been a resident of the county for more than 25 years and currently lives in Longwood. She has advocated for community causes, particularly protection of the rural boundary and sensible housing options. She served as a volunteer with Seminole County schools and is a member of the Longwood 2019 Charter Advisory Committee. Poulalion also taught classes in journalism and public speaking at Seminole State College and Valencia College. Poulalion is a graduate of the University of Florida where she earned a Master’s in Mass Communication with a focus on public opinion research.