Get Out The Vote Efforts Continue In Duval County Through Election Day
Republicans, Democrats and their allies are making their final pitches to potential voters, with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Get Out the Vote workers and volunteers frequently don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to ideology.
“I hope we win,” said volunteer Sherry Wendenland who spent Monday phone banking at the Republican Party’s headquarters in Mandarin. “I really do.”
Wendenland said she’s been a Republican since 2008, but she was never passionate about a political candidate until Donald Trump came along. She’s voting and phone banking to support his agenda and Republicans like Gov. Rick Scott, who’s running for U.S. Senate, and gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.
“I don’t want identity politics,” she said. “I hate that.”
On the other side of the aisle sits Jake Capistran, an organizer for NextGen Florida. He was tabling at the University of North Florida on Monday.
“Here at NextGent UNF, all we simply do is try to ensure that the students are aware of Andrew Gillum, are aware of his platform and what he can do for the state of Florida,” he said. “We just encourage every single person, no matter what party you’re a part of, to go out and vote for Andrew Gillum.”
Despite their political differences, Wendenland and Capistran seem to agree on one thing: the importance of voting.
“Vote like your hair is on fire,” Wendenland said.
“During presidential elections only 59 percent of people turn out to vote,” said Capistran. “That means the system’s working for a little bit more than half of the population. That means it’s not working for everyone.”
“If we can increase the voter turnout maybe we’d have a democracy that reflected peoples’ ideologies,” he went on to say. “People who don’t believe in what we believe in, that’s OK, but at least you believe in something. Believe in something. Vote for it. Use your voice. That’s our overall message.”
And if people don’t vote, Wendenland said they have no right to complain.
“Just shut up,” she said. “If you can’t get out and go stand in a line, maybe for 20 or 15 minutes... you know, tough turkey.”
UNF pollster Mike Binder says political scientists have been looking into get out the vote efforts for a long time.
“Certainly, the more voters that you contact the better the likelihood that those folks are going to come out and vote,” he said.
Binder thinks voter turnout could surpass 60 percent in this election. The record for a Florida midterm is 66 percent, set back in 1994.
For those who head to the polls on Tuesday, organizations like New Florida Majority are there to help. Outside of their own get out-the-vote efforts, they’ll have representatives at about 20 polling locations throughout Duval County on Tuesday to help voters troubleshoot problems, fight voter suppression and intimidation tactics and provide legal support when necessary.
Just look for people wearing t-shirts that say “Vote Protector” or “Election Protection.”
“In that way people will know that they can come up to you and ask you anything that they may need help with prior to or in leaving a polling location,” said Mone Holder, senior program director of policy, advocacy and research at New Florida Majority.
Voters who need legal aid should call 1-866-OUR-VOTE. “That number connects people to attorneys who can answer any legal questions,” Holder said. New Florida Majority will also have attorneys on the ground Tuesday.
If voters experience suppression or intimidation tactics, Holder said they should report the activity to a vote protector on site. If there isn’t a vote protector on site, she recommends calling the New Florida Majority office at 944-224-0631 in addition to reporting the activity to the Supervisor of Elections Office.