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Democrats to text 1 million Floridians and urge them to vote by mail

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Florida Democrats are pushing to expand remote voting.
A Tampa man contends in a federal lawsuit that he received unwanted text messages from the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Times files)
A Tampa man contends in a federal lawsuit that he received unwanted text messages from the Tampa Bay Lightning. (Times files)
Published Mar. 30, 2020

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Here are two ways the coronavirus is already changing the 2020 election: It’s forcing political parties to shift to more digital organizing and it’s increasing the emphasis on voting by mail.

Those two realities are behind the latest campaign from Democrats to boost turnout in 2020.

The Florida Democratic Party plans to text 1 million Floridians this week and urge them to register to vote-by-mail. It will require hundreds of the party’s volunteers to message people across the state in the coming days in hopes of converting them into remote voters.

Related: Is Florida prepared to hold elections in the coronavirus era?

The state party has repeatedly encouraged the federal government and Gov. Ron DeSantis to expand opportunities to vote by mail amid the outbreak as experts increasingly warn that election systems aren’t prepared for a pandemic. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package passed by Congress put $400 million into state election systems — one-tenth of the $4 billion House Democrats initially proposed.

“We need to modernize our voting systems to protect voters, and our partnership with the DNC to enroll Floridians in vote-by-mail does just that,” Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa. "If (President Donald) Trump and DeSantis won’t act to protect the vote from a global pandemic, we will.”

Florida Democrats came into 2020 planning to double down on vote-by-mail and dedicated $1 million to that cause. The state party will tap into the massive database of cell phones the Democratic National Committee purchased in January to help increase voter contact in 2020.

Related: Sign up for our weekly Florida politics newsletter by clicking here.

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