Updated: Oct 28
Candidates urge voters to “get up, get out of the house and go vote.”
“Freedom and opportunity are on the ballot this year,” said Tiffany Hughes, the Democrat candidate for Florida House District 39, which includes Winter Garden and Ocoee.
Hughes joined state House Democratic Caucus leader-elect Fentrice Driskell of Tampa, and several Democratic state House candidates, including Allie Braswell, and Anna V. Eskamani, to urge Floridians to vote early and for democracy at a Tuesday press conference outside the Orange County Supervisor of Elections Office in downtown Orlando.
Hughes said she was concerned for students attending overcrowded underfunded high schools "because we continue to take money away from our public education systems." She said she worries about families wondering how they're going to pay for college or "put food on the table" because rents and insurance costs keep rising.
“Now that ballots are at your homes and hopefully in your mailboxes, and our polling stations are open for you to get out and vote, there is nothing more to do than to get out and make your voice heard,” Hughes said. She’s running against Apopka Councilman and Victory Church World Outreach Center founder Doug Bankson.
Eskamani, running for re-election in House District 42 against Republican Bonnie Jackson, laid out what she said was “at stake for this November.”
“There's one value that I think is shared across the state, and that is a commitment to freedom, a commitment to making personal decisions about one's body and about one's destiny,” she said.
She warned that if Gov. Ron DeSantis wins reelection and Republicans secure a supermajority in the Florida Legislature — a 60 percent threshold of votes needed to change the Florida Constitution — they would move to completely ban abortion. “There's no sugarcoating that," she said. "And as Floridians, we believe that decisions about someone's pregnancy — whether it is to become a parent or choose adoption or to end that pregnancy — must remain between that woman, her family, her doctor and her faith. Not politicians.”
A University of North Florida poll taken after DeSantis signed the 15-week abortion ban indicates that the majority of Floridians — 57 percent — oppose the ban and want to keep abortion legal. Opposition ticked up to 62 percent when participants learned there were no exceptions for rape or incest.
“Abortion is on the ballot this year,” Eskamani said. “You might not explicitly see that stated like in Kansas [ where there was a constitutional amendment on the ballot], but it is on the ballot for the candidates you vote for or that you vote against. And I want to be clear that every single Republican in the Florida Legislature not only voted to ban abortion at 15 weeks, but they voted against exceptions. They were given a chance to vote for exceptions on rape, incest, human trafficking. They all said no.”
Braswell, vice president of the VyStar Credit Union and a Marine Corps veteran, appealed directly to fellow veterans.
“I need all of you to turn out and vote. And I need you to vote based upon what we stood for. We stood for the values of this country. We stood for democracy. We stand today to make sure that every military member that serves is regarded and respected with the integrity and honor that is required of the young men and women who put it on the line every day. So I ask you to get out and vote.”
Braswell, running against Republican Carolina Amesty in House District 45, cautioned that if citizens don’t use the right to vote, then they could lose it. “Voting in this democracy is fragile, folks. John Robert Lewis said it better than I. We gotta get up, we gotta get out of the house, we gotta go vote. You can vote early, you can come and vote today. You can vote all the way through November 8th. But don't miss your opportunity to have your voice heard, because when we start to be silent, then we have things that run over on top of us.”
When Driskell stepped to the microphone, she said she didn’t want to “wake up the day after the election” to find that women in Florida no longer have bodily autonomy and where a 10-year-old is forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby. “We would never force a 10-year old to do that,” Driskell said, adding that she didn’t want homeowners to keep losing property insurance and residents to continue facing rising rents and eviction rates.
“If you don't wanna wake up on November 9 in that Florida, you have to get out and vote,” she said. “Please vote now. Make sure that you reach out to every family member, every group text that you're on, every Instagram chat that you're on.”
VoxPopuli reached out to Republican candidates for their get-out-the-vote message.
Nate Robertson of Ocoee, running against LaVon Bracy Davis in state House District 40, encouraged voters to be “very informed about the races and questions on their ballot,” he told VoxPopuli via text. “Every voter should research each candidate and vote based on the issues and the candidate and not necessarily the party.”
"It’s such a privilege, right, blessing and duty to vote as a citizen of the United States, and government of, by, and for the people ceases to exist when the people cease to speak," Doug Bankson, the Republican candidate in House District 39, said in an emailed statement to VoxPopuli. "Your vote is your voice, and I believe we are at a crucial time in America. Liberty is only one generation away from extinction, and my vote is for life and liberty. Let us respect all human life and fight for the liberties passed down to us, that we may pass them to the next generation.