2020 Voting Questions Answered, Applying For College During COVID, And Guitars Over Guns
What you should know as you head to the polls. How are high school seniors applying for college during the pandemic? And a program that's helping young people find their purpose through music.
On this Thursday, Oct. 22, episode of Sundial:
2020 Voting Questions Answered
The 2020 election ends in less than two weeks and in Florida, 3.6 million voters have already cast their ballots early and by mail.
The pandemic has made this election different in many ways. Still, as with previous elections, we’re already seeing stories of voter intimidation.
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Voters in at least four states, including Florida, have been targeted with threatening emails that claim to be from the Proud Boys, a far-right group that has denied involvement and says it is working with the FBI.
The Miami Herald reported that the emails came from a server in Estonia. Wednesday night, the FBI suggested that Iran may be behind the voter intimidation emails.
“We have followed the advice of all the security personnel and security agencies and purchased every piece of software that is available to provide early warning if there is any penetration of our system. I have heard none in respect to Broward County. So that’s a situation where you have to be mindful all the time of what may be happening,” said Broward Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci.
“The tabulating system is not connected to the internet in any way and I have absolutely no worries about that being penetrated.”
We spoke with Antonacci about what you should know — the do’s and don’ts — as you head to the polls. You can also find WLRN’s 2020 voter guide here.
Applying For College During COVID-19
Choosing a college is a major life decision. But some South Florida high school seniors are wondering how they will get the chance to make that choice if they can’t take the SAT/ACT college admissions tests.
The pandemic has forced some testing centers to close or offer limited seating availability. Universities across the country have waived the test requirements, but not the Florida Board of Governors, the governing body for all of the state’s public universities.
This is posing a problem for thousands of high school seniors as the Nov. 1 deadline for most college applications nears. More than half of high school seniors in Florida did not have a test score as of September, according to a recent Miami Herald report.
“These are our futures. This is what we've been working for our entire high school experience. And now that can all be taken away from us just because we don't have these test scores. The state needs to realize that that is not our fault and we shouldn't be penalized for it,” said Ana Pages, who started a petition calling for Florida public colleges to go test-optional.
We spoke with the Miami Dade County Public School Board student advisor, Maria Martinez, who is also a high school senior. We also spoke with Ana Ceballos, a Miami Herald based in the paper's Tallahassee bureau.
Sundial reached out to the Florida Board of Governors for a comment, or to have a representative join the program, but did not receive a response.
Guitars Over Guns
Thousands of young people in Miami and Chicago have found purpose and a path to success through music with the Guitars Over Guns program.
The program is one of 10 organizations that have won The Elevate Prize Foundation’s inaugural prize, which provides at least $300,000 in funding and professional support.
“We believe that all students should have the opportunity to reach their full potential through music and mentorship and unfortunately the access is not distributed equally or equitably when it comes to music education,” said Chad Bernstein, one of the program’s co-founders.
Guitars Over Gun’s impact has gone beyond the music.
“If you want to play drums, play drums. If you want to talk it out, we can talk it out about your schooling and your grades and all that kind of stuff. Just to have somebody speak to you about certain things that you don’t necessarily get guidance on in middle school...was super dope,” said Caleb Alcime, who was a student in the program and is now drummer with gospel groups. He also works as a program associate with Guitars Over Guns.
We spoke with Bernstein and Alcime about the prize that the organization won and what it will mean for the younger generations coming into the program.