TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After losing his bid for Governor by just over 30,000 votes last year, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum launched a voter registration campaign, setting a goal of registering one million voters.
Gillum’s Forward Florida Action campaign claims to have registered 106,000 voters between April and October.
GOP strategist Mac Stipanovich is skeptical.
“I believe that the number is inflated,” said Stipanovich.
Numbers put out by the Florida Division of Elections show by the end of September, third-party voter registration organizations had totaled less than 27,000 registrations.
Forward Florida told us people who were already registered but were at risk of being removed from the roles because of outdated addresses or inactive status are also included in its 100,000 figure.
The campaign said getting those voters' information corrected has prevented them from joining the 371,000 that have been removed from the roles in 2019.
In an official statement Florida Forward Action Spokesperson Josh Karp said:
"We made a commitment to bring resources and infrastructure to register and reengage voters, and we’re proud to be delivering for Florida. Progressive organizers across our state are doing the hard work of democracy. We will hold the the state of Florida accountable for improving their infrastructure to smoothly add these new voters to the rolls —and doing their part to ensure every vote is counted next November.”
Forward Florida Action was bankrolled in part by $500,000 in unspent funds from Mayor Gillum’s Gubernatorial race.
So far the organization has distributed $1 million to 22 groups in its voter registration effort. But Stipanovich said based on what the campaign has produced so far, its new goal of flipping the Florida Legislature in 2020 is wishful thinking.
“Split the difference, let's suppose it's 50,000 new voters... Most of the voters appear to be people who were already eligible to vote and may or may not have voted in the past and there's a big difference between registering someone to vote and getting them to vote,” said Stipanovich.
One thing is clear, with the Presidency on the line both sides are likely to see huge voter turnouts.