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Honoring victims of Pulse nightclub shooting, Equality Florida launches voter program

Friday is the fourth remembrance of the Pulse nightclub shooting. It will also be the launch of a new voter outreach program.

As the fourth remembrance of the Pulse nightclub shooting approaches, Equality Florida, an LGBTQ advocacy group, is launching the largest election program coordinated by any statewide equality group across the country.

Honoring the 49 LGBTQ people of color who were victims of the shooting at Pulse Night Club in Orlando in 2016, Equality Florida will target 500,000 “pro-equality voters” as part of a larger effort to remove barriers to the ballot box. The program includes informing those Florida voters on candidates’ stances on equality and on how they can update their registrations and sign up to receive vote-by-mail ballots, according to a news release from the group.

“When we set out on this journey four years ago, Equality Florida promised to do the work of uprooting hate and violence. Dismantling systems of racism and homophobia requires that pro-equality voters make our voices heard and ensure our votes shape who represents us and what policies they champion,” said Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Senior Political Director in a statement.

“We live in the most important political real estate in the country and pro-equality voters are positioned to make the difference between a state that will be won or lost by 100,000 votes. In 2020 we’re going to leave it all on the field,” said Saunders, a former state representative from Orlando.

The launch is also part of a broader commitment to action against systematic racism and police violence that comes after the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody as an officer knelt on his neck. In response to the killing of George Floyd, the organization coordinated a sign-on letter that now includes over 800 LGBTQ groups committed to the cause and, within this new initiative, the organization has identified almost 200,000 voters of color who will be included.

Kicking off Friday, the first phase of the program is aimed at ensuring the 500,000 targeted voters are signed up to receive their ballots by mail. Equality Florida will begin with a “peer-to-peer text banking Day of Action” and continue the sign-up efforts over the summer through communications, including email, text, and phone calls, according to a news statement.

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