Florida Black coalition ramps up get out the vote efforts ahead of midterms

Vote for Black Lives campaign aims to increase Black voter participation

The deadline to register to vote in time for the Florida primary election is July 25, and Black voting advocates are gearing up to get people ready to vote in August and November.

ORLANDO, Fla. – The deadline to register to vote in time for the Florida primary election is July 25, and Black voting advocates are gearing up to get people ready to vote in August and November.

Equal Ground Florida is a Black-led, nonpartisan effort to build the Black vote and Black voter power in the state. It’s a coalition of voting advocates, faith leaders and program directors for historically Black colleges and universities.

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During a statewide virtual press conference Tuesday afternoon, pastors, community leaders, and many others listened in as Equal Ground unveiled its Vote for Black Lives campaign. It’s a statewide effort aimed at getting results to register and educate more Black voters.

“It’s very important to make sure that our community is first educated on the changes on those laws, understanding what their power and their vote means and they get out and actually make change,” said Equal Ground managing director Kristin Fulwylie Thomas.

She said their efforts are vital and they’re working to get more Black people to the polls than they did during the 2018 elections.

According to Florida Division of Elections data, there more than 1.9 million Black voters in Florida. While Black voters had record turnout in the 2020 elections, turnout tends to be lower for midterm elections.

News 6 did some digging and in Orange County, the supervisor of elections office told News 6 that during the 2020 primary election, 139,620 black voters registered, with 43,778 Black voters actually casting their ballots. In the general election, of the 148,145 black voters registered, 108,964 voted.

In Seminole County, 33,632 black voters were registered during the 2020 primary election, 8,443 black voters actually cast their ballots. They said of the 34,760 black voters registered in the general election, 24,523 voted.

Equal Ground said the rights of Black voters are being threatened by Florida Republican efforts to tighten voter laws, particularly vote-by-mail restrictions, even though the state experienced almost no issues with voting in 2020.

Equal Ground also wants to use the recent congressional redistricting by Florida Republicans, which potentially shifted one to two Congressional districts away from minority representation, to motivate Black voters to turn out to the polls this year in higher numbers.

Derrick McRae is the pastor at the Experience Christian Center in Pine Hills. He’s taking steps to make sure more Black people are voting ahead of the primary election next month, including canvassing the community, and then what he’s calling Impact Sunday on Aug. 14 during early voting.

“We’re going to now say we are burying the stigma that Black voters are not voting. We’re going to be led by a hearse with the congregation behind us. We’re going to wear all black. We’re blacking it out. We’re going down to say our vote matters, our vote counts,” said McRae. “I think it’s really important because the Black vote becomes the Black voice.”

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About the Authors:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.

Jerry Askin is an Atlanta native who came to News 6 in March 2018 with an extensive background in breaking news.