The Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office takes home two major awards
If you think the Supervisor of Elections works only a few days every four years, think again. Mike Ertel, Seminole County’s supervisor, is a man constantly on the move.
“We do the same thing between elections that NASA does between launches... we prepare, prepare, prepare,” Mike says.
Besides managing the regular election cycle (which is annual, for the record) and keeping his department ready for split-second special elections, it’s Mike’s job to maintain constant outreach and communication with Seminole County voters and, perhaps more importantly, would-be voters.
For his efforts, Mike is highly sought after to speak at conventions here and abroad. He’s been asked to testify before a United States Senate Subcommittee and honored for his steadfast determination and perseverance. Most recently, in 2017, Mike’s office received an international award for reaching out to first-time voters and a national award for the design and functionality of VoteSeminole.org.
The website award was garnered from the International Association of Webmasters and Designers. The Golden Web, as the award is known, recognized the newly redesigned VoteSeminole.org (which was developed completely in-house) for design, originality, content, and achieving levels of excellence. Earlier that year, VoteSeminole.org was featured on ElectionLine.org, a national e-newsletter.
Then, at the 2017 International Electoral Awards ceremony, the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Office edged out international finalists from the United Kingdom and Romania with its #FutureVoter initiative. The honor was the second time Seminole County had been recognized by this international body, having first received an award in 2013 for voter outreach.
“Applying for awards is a way to thank the people who make it all happen,” Mike says. “It’s a community award.”
In the case of #FutureVoter, Mike credits local schools and elected officials who help get out the young vote. The initiative involves Mike visiting high schools to register and pre-register students and giving the young adults an insight into the election process. During his visits, Mike also invites a surprise elected official into the room or by phone to answer questions. That’s important, Mike says, since many kids don’t think elected officials care what they have to say. After Mike leaves, he deputizes principals as Assistant Supervisors of Elections to legally allow them to accept voter registration applications.
“It is the most important thing I do every year,” says Mike. “It helps students to see the power they have as voters. I can punch their ticket to the dance, but I need to get them excited about going to the dance.”
The numbers don’t lie. Seminole County enjoys the highest voter turnout of any large county in the state. And that’s across all demographic groups, including those new voters between the ages of 18 and 21. In fact, in Seminole County, that segment outperforms voters between 24 and 27 years of age.
“It’s like being a boxing promoter,” Mike says. “I bring people out and announce the results.”
But, of course, it’s more than that. Mike builds voter trust, he promotes credibility amongst the electorate, and he brings future decision makers into the fold. And now, he has a couple more awards to prove it.
Want More Information?