Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has one message for Florida’s young people ahead of this year’s election: Get involved.
“Register, report and volunteer,” Abrams told a crowd during a visit to the Miami Dade College North campus.
Abrams visited neighbor to the south, joining Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo for an event on voting rights. Rizzo also highlighted the importance of youth turnout in 2020.
“In 2018, almost 60,000 people voted at the 12 college campus polling locations around Florida — over half of those that voted on campus were under the age of 30,” Rizzo said.
“Your vote will not just determine your future, but the future of America. When Florida’s young people vote, Florida wins.”
The share of youth voting saw a sharp increase here in 2018, a year in which voters of all stripes turned out in force.
The Associated Press summed up the data in an April report. “Turnout by voting-age citizens between ages 18 and 24 in Florida went from 17.6% in 2014 to almost 30% in the 2018 midterms, the biggest jump of any age group, although all age groups saw increases, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
Though the youth vote typically favors Democrats, that strong showing still left several high-profile Democrats coming up short in 2018 — with candidates like Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson narrowly losing in statewide races.
Abrams and Rizzo also discussed the issue of voting rights and voter suppression more broadly.
The Legislature’s approval of SB 7066 last year has brought that issue to the forefront for Democratic activists. The bill served as implementing legislation for Amendment 4, allowing ex-felons to have their voting rights restored only after paying any fines, fees and restitution owed.
Democrats have labeled the GOP-backed measure a “poll tax.” Republicans have pointed to testimony from the amendment’s original backers, stating that repayment of fines and fees would be a necessary part of “completing” a person’s sentence.
Abrams — an oft-rumored potential 2020 VP pick — has become a voting rights advocate following her defeat in the 2018 gubernatorial election. She’s alleged that election was stolen from her due to voting irregularities. However, those accusations have not yet been borne out by evidence.
Abrams left those in attendance with the argument that just showing up to vote is empowering.
“Voting is power and I will not let anyone steal my power,” Abrams said.
“No one is going to say how American I am, I’m going to tell you at the ballot box.”