TAMPA — Armed with popsicles and mini-donuts, Casey Bauer approached a group of University of Tampa students in Plant Hall on Tuesday to see if they were registered to vote.
Three said yes. But 20-year-old Amanda Schreiber sheepishly admitted she was not. Within a breath, a clipboard was in her hand.
"I should have a while ago," Schreiber said after she filled out the paperwork. "This was an easy opportunity."
Bauer is a student at UT and is also employed by NextGen America, the progressive group funded by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer. On Tuesday, the organization held 200 events in 20 states, including 14 in Florida, as part of a day of action to register young voters.
Rain pushed the event indoors, but Bauer and his team registered about six people within the first hour.
NextGen is planning to pump $3.5 million into Florida, eyeing three Congressional seats held by Republicans — all in south Florida — and the races for U.S. Senate and governor. The state is one of the top targets in the midterm elections, said spokeswoman Olivia Bercow.
"Young people are the largest eligible voting block in the country," Bercow said. "We just surpassed the Baby Boomers. They're energized and fired up like never before and have an opportunity to make a big difference this November."
The organization's focus on environmental issues is a natural fit at the University of Tampa, Bauer said, because of the school's strong marine biology program. Tuesday's event, dubbed "#VoteForThePlanet, was coordinated with College Democrats and other conservation organizations.
"We're trying to keep them thinking about these elections," Bauer said. "Let them know they can help the environment by voting."