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Both Parties Look To Energize Voters On Day 1 Of Early Voting In Leon County

Ryan Dailey
The Biden-Harris campaign hosted an "early vote block party" to engage college-age voters at its Tallahassee Victory Center on Tennessee Street Monday, Oct. 19, 2020

Early voting began for most counties in Florida Monday, and that included Leon County. Both parties are trying to energize voters in the run up to November 3.

Some of Leon County’s ten early voting sites had lines out the door at various times of day, and some had virtually no wait to get in.

Tobey Houston voted early at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.

“I walked right in, we heard that it wasn’t too busy, I wasn’t expecting a line. There were maybe three people in front of me – I was in and out in 15, 20 minutes,” Houston told WFSU Monday.

Houston did see a sizable line of voters at a site on the Northside of town:

“We were at Northeast side library on Thomasville Road. It was super busy, I got there around 9:45. There was no parking, we actually had to park across the street at the Wal-Mart,” Houston said. “We saw people get in line, it was probably – the line was out the door and on the sidewalk. Tons of people were, they stood in line – I saw a woman with her baby, people brought chairs. Tons of people just happy to wait in line to vote.”

Houston said she was sign-waving for state House District 9 candidate Allison Tant Monday morning. By the afternoon, Houston was volunteering at an “early vote block party” hosted by the Biden-Harris campaign. The event was held to engage primarily college-age voters, the campaign says.

Two students involved in campus political organizations spoke at the event.

Malik Moore is director of political affairs for Florida College Democrats, and a Florida State University student. He spoke at the event, held at the Biden campaign’s Tallahassee Victory Center on Tennessee Street.

“Make sure that everybody’s engaged to vote, especially young people,” Moore said of his goal in making remarks. “This is a quintessential election especially for young people of color, and it’s important to make sure we do everything we can to engage that demographic.”

London Camel Florida College Democrats’ deputy director of political affairs, is a Florida A&M University student. She also spoke at the event.

“It’s a very important election, and we’re the most important voting bracket in the nation. So, (we're) encouraging young people to get out and vote,” Camel said.

Local elected officials, like City Commissioner-elect Jack Porter, and Democratic state Representative Ramon Alexander who represents Leon and Gadsden Counties, also gave speeches at the event in support of Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, Big Bend Republicans were also out drumming up support for the Trump campaign. Leon County Republican Party Chair Evan Power says a ‘Team Trump’ bus took the show on the road.

“We’ve had a Team Trump bus tour today with Congressman Matt Gaetz, Mark Whitaker, the former acting attorney general, and Tommy Hicks, the RNC co-chair; and we’ve been in Gainesville, Live Oak, Lake City, Madison, and we’re wrapping up today in Tallahassee, Florida,” Power said Monday.

Power says the kickoff of early voting is a big day for his party in the Sunshine State, a key battleground.

“I think for us, the start of early voting is very important, because people want to vote in person, or they want to take their vote-by-mail ballots and turn them in to a person. So, this is really the kickoff for us of getting out the vote,” Power said. “And, people are fired up to do that and to support the Republican ticket up and down the ballot.”

To close out this week, Vice President Mike Pence will be making a campaign stop in Tallahassee on Saturday. Pence’s press secretary announced the stop on Twitter Monday morning.

Power expects a turnout not unlike what then-candidate Donald Trump got during his 2016 Tallahassee visit:

“I think, you know, if you look back four years ago when Donald Trump came here, we had one of the biggest rallies ever in the Panhandle, and it said a lot of things about what we were going to do to win an election. And I think we’re going to be excited here in the Panhandle to welcome the Vice President to town, and show him what the Panhandle is all about.”

Early voting lasts through Sunday, November 1 in Leon County. A list of Leon’s 10 early voting sites can be accessed at the Supervisor of Election’s website,