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Voting Rights Group Official On Voting In Florida


It's two decades now since the election that made Florida something of a poster child for election dysfunction - 2000, of course, being the year when the projected presidential winner in that state veered from Gore to undecided to Bush and then followed recounts and hanging chads. And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in, and we ended up with President George W. Bush.

Well, ever since, Florida has been striving to avoid a repeat to make sure everyone who wants to vote can vote and their vote gets counted. One group keeping an eye on things and supporting voters today is Florida For All Education Fund. They especially focus on Black and brown voters in Florida. And their state director, Corryn Freeman, joins me now.

Hey there. Welcome.

CORRYN FREEMAN: Hi. Thanks for having me.

KELLY: So I gather I have found you in Tamarac, Fla., which is in Broward County. Is that right?

FREEMAN: Yeah, Broward County, Fla. - good old Broward.

KELLY: (Laughter) And what's it look like? What's it feel like? What are people telling you there in Broward County today?

FREEMAN: Well, there is a lot of energy on the ground here in the state of Florida. We are definitely setting records. At 10:30 this morning in Broward County, we had already surpassed the Election Day - the total votes cast in 2016 by 10:30 in the morning. So we are setting records on the ground here. There are some long lines, but we're not seeing it because of any miscarriages in the administration of poll workers or the supervisors of elections but really just because of high voter participation.

KELLY: Yeah. And I keep thinking that, you know, long lines, too - if you're standing six feet, you know, back from the person in front of you, the same number...

FREEMAN: Even longer.

KELLY: ...Of people's going to be a way longer line.


KELLY: Now, I know you've also been monitoring reports from other polling places around the state, trying to keep track of what's going on all over. You're keeping in touch via WhatsApp.


KELLY: Yeah.

FREEMAN: So we have a WhatsApp system, and we filter those reports into a recording system that goes into our boiler room to help solve voters' issues...


FREEMAN: ...As they come in.

KELLY: And what are you hearing?

FREEMAN: So what we're seeing predominantly are reports of long lines. We're having one-off reports of voters that are having issues at the polls because of IDs, needing provisional ballots. We've had a couple of returning citizens who said that they were no longer on the voting rolls because of fines and fees. But the majority of the things that we are tracking are, honestly, voter intimidation reports from partisan volunteers.

KELLY: And, you know, I'm struck by the language I just heard you use. You're talking about one-off reports. You mentioned a couple of people having an issue. So far, you are not hearing of major systemic problems, no widespread disruptions in Florida. That's got to count as good news.

FREEMAN: That absolutely does count as good news. We - nothing systemic by the supervisors of elections; just voters who need more information about how and when to vote because of their individual issues - that is very good.

KELLY: Yeah. I don't know how long it's going to be before we can talk about Florida and elections and how smoothly they're going or not without harkening back to the whole debacle of the 2000 election. And I wonder, how long a shadow does that cast to this day in Florida?

FREEMAN: Well, Floridians, for the most part, all are aware for the most part of the 2000 election. I'd say for folks 30 to 35 and older, they definitely are aware of the hanging chad and...

KELLY: Yeah.

FREEMAN: ...The Brooks Brothers riots.

KELLY: We lived through it.

FREEMAN: But the younger folks - yeah. The Gen Z - I think they're really just out there voting because of the issues that they care about. So there's talk, but I wouldn't say that - no, there's talk. I think the talk actually does loom in the voter's mind. But we're here to show that Florida - the election is protected, the administration of the election is safe, and folks are doing good.

KELLY: That is Corryn Freeman of Florida For All Education Fund. It's a nonprofit working to support Black and brown voters in Florida. And we reached her, as you heard, in Tamarac, Fla., in Broward County.

Corryn Freeman, thank you.

FREEMAN: Thank you for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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