Florida activists get money to register and turn out young, minority, former felon voters for presidential election

Four Florida groups that focus on young people, Black and Hispanic citizens, and felons who’ve served their sentences will share more than $2 million in funding to register and turn out voters who’ve traditionally been underrepresented at the polls.

The money, announced Tuesday, comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center Vote Your Voice program.

The grants are aimed at furthering strategies to turn out low-propensity voters, counter practices that make it difficult for some to vote, and help overcome difficulties in organizing and turning out voters during the coronavirus pandemic.

Even a relatively small increase in the potential pool of voters can have a big impact in Florida.

The state awards 29 of the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency and has a history of exceedingly close statewide elections. In 2016, Trump won 49% of the vote statewide to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 47.8%.

The groups will use the money to register, educate and mobilize voters through a variety of organizing tools including digital ads, social media, online events, texting and phone banking.

The money is going to:

Dream Defenders, with 10 Florida chapters, including Broward and Miami-Dade counties, a group of Black and Hispanic young people focused on progressive political goals. It will use its $200,000 to focus on Black and immigrant voters ages 18 to 34 in Broward, Orange and Osceola counties.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which helps felons who have served their sentences re-enter society, will use its $1 million to focus on Black and Hispanic voters from the 35 counties that are home to the highest rates of incarcerated people. The coalition led the effort to pass the 2018 amendment to the state Constitution to restore voting rights for most felons who have served their sentences, a change that has been blocked by state Republicans.

New Florida Majority, a liberal community organizing group that works in Black and Hispanic communities, will use its $500,000 grant for a statewide effort.

Organize Florida Education Fund, will use its $310,000 grant to focus on its core constituency, low income and minority women along the Interstate 4 corridor in Central Florida.

A total of $5.5 million in grants are going to 12 voter outreach organizations across the Deep South. Besides Florida, the money is funding organizations in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.

Anthony Man can be reached at aman@sunsentinel.com or on Twitter @browardpolitics

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