• Marty Sullivan II

Making Strides Towards Voter Education Through Voter Registration


Since the age of 18-years-old, Deborah Payton-Jones found herself involved with voter registration and working the voter polls during election season. Through her 42 years of service, Payton-Jones has used her knowledge and opportunity to educate and register students at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and citizens of Nassau and Suffolk counties in Long Island, N.Y.

Starting with voter registration, Payton-Jones created a program during her time at FIT that allowed students to register to vote. This program catered to new voters, previous voters, and anyone in between, including faculty and staff. Pairing her two job titles, Volunteer Coordinator and Voter Registration Coordinator, Payton-Jones was able to start the conversation of voting with students during the time they spent signing up to volunteer for fashion shows around the city.

Payton-Jones’ motto and three-step process is Registration, Education, and Mobilization. By sharing with students, the process of registering to become a voter, she was then able to educate them on how to become prepared voters themselves. Education techniques like presentations on voting and government vocabulary and sharing unbiased resources that could be used to learn about candidates, created students who would be better prepared when their time came to visit the polls.

“You don’t just register a person. If you have the wherewithal and the depth of knowledge, you need to not only register them and explain to them the importance of registering. But you then need to educate them,” Payton-Jones stated.

Before retiring from FIT, her time was spent between students in Manhattan, N.Y., and citizens of Long Island, N.Y. Post-retirement, Payton-Jones’ work has not stopped as she currently works with the Board of Elections of Suffolk County, N.Y. as the Coordinator of Inspectors: Town of Huntington. In this role, she recruits, trains, and places inspectors to be a neutral person of assistance at polling sites, ensuring the following:

  1. That there is no voter suppression

  2. The voting process is clean and effortless

  3. They speak to the process and not just to the people

Work that is needed does not mean it cannot be recognized. Due to her work on Long Island during the year 2020 and the 2020 Presidential Election, Senator John E. Brooks is recognizing and honoring Payton-Jones for her work within both counties of Long Island.

To find more information on registering to vote or checking your registration status, Vote411 can do that along with providing more voter resources.

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