Gulfport Votes 100% is organizing volunteers for the 2020 election cycle that includes the presidential preference primary and local municipal election on Tuesday, March 17.
“One of the things we really want to do is have people vote during local elections,” said Ingrid Bredenberg, organizer. “According to historical data, it’s not that hard to get people out for presidential elections.”
In 2012, Gulfport voted 74 percent on the presidential and in 2016, 81 percent, she said.
“But in 2017, the turnout for the municipal election was 20 percent. In 2018, it was 21 percent. And, last year in 2019, it was 27 percent,” said Bredenberg. “So, we’re moving in the right direction but that’s a big difference.”
The local grassroots group began in the summer of 2018. Their ultimate goal is 100 percent participation by people who are qualified to vote and incrementally, they aim to improve voter turnout with each election, she said.
“The group is also a chance for people to meet those who have different perspectives and hopefully share in agreement that voting is important,” she said. “We are spending our tax dollars to bring democracy to other countries where people feel privileged to vote. If we don’t exercise that here, our voices are not being heard and somebody else’s is.”
Some team members have been certified to register people to vote, she said. “We’ll have people out at the Tuesday fresh markets, art walks and other events.”
The group also has fun passing out their signature braded bracelets to those who pledge to vote.
And, they party.
“‘Party at the Polls’ is the after party in November. We’re looking to also do it in August for the primaries and we’ll tag along on the St. Paddy’s Day parties on March 17,” she said.
Other 2020 local voting dates are August 18 for the Primary Election and November 3 for the General Election. For details regarding what offices will be on the ballot in each, visit votepinellas.com/Election-Information/Offices-Up-for-Election-in-2020.
Bredenberg said that what’s different this year is the group is getting an earlier start.
“There’s a lot of excitement, energy and great ideas that are already starting to happen,” she said. “Other people are stepping into leadership roles because it’s not a ‘me’ thing, it’s a ‘we’ thing.”
The next organizational meeting will be at the SumitrA Espresso Lounge+ at 2838 Beach Boulevard, on Monday, February 24 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
And, the group’s two costumed mascots – Captain Vote and Tanya Turnout – will be making appearances so “stay tuned for that,” said Bredenberg.
“Gulfport Votes 100% is a way for residents to be really positive, to be a model for other communities and to keep it weird,” she said.
For more information or to get involved, visit facebook.com/GulfportVotes100.