Recent Florida election results have relied on three things; turnout, turnout, and turnout. Engaging low propensity voters is essential in carrying the momentum built during the 2012 Presidential election, and achieving progress in areas important to small business owners. Minimum wage, equal pay for equal work, Medicaid expansion, and corporate tax reform are some of the most important reasons that small business owners paid close attention to this election.
The Florida Main Street Alliance focused their efforts engaging existing members by phone and email and reaching out to over 100 new business owners. Shop owners shared their window and counter space to place posters and flyers stating “This small business votes, and we want you to vote too.” Business owners are trusted members of their community and they can reach hundreds of people throughout the day without leaving their shop.
Placing a sign in their window and a flyer on their counter shows that business owners are involved in the elections and understand how the outcome weighs on their business. Some owners took it a step further though, and engaged their customers individually. Like Abraham Gordon, owner of Gordon’s Be Back Fish House. Abraham said, “If one of my customers comes in on Sunday and tells me they haven’t voted I’ll tell them to eat their lunch, and then go to the polls. If they come in Tuesday and they still haven’t voted I’ll tell them to go to the polls. Your lunch will be here when you get back.” Gordon also committed to drive several friends with him to Souls to the Polls on Sunday, the last day of early voting.
Small business owners also have a personal relationship with their employees and can do their part in encouraging their staff to take part in the election. Ricardo McQueen, owner of Food Health and Environmental Safety said, “If any of my employees haven’t voted by Tuesday I’ll call them into my office and we will talk about how important their right to vote is. I don’t care who they vote for, I just want them to exercise their right as an American.” Ricardo is an immigrant from the Bahamas who recently gained citizenship, and the right to vote.
In Orange County, the 2014 election brought out 34,700 more voters than the 2010 midterm election, which shows an 8% increase in voter participation from just four years ago. Main Street businesses helped get the word out and encouraged their customers and employees to vote. Many will stay engaged by hosting member meetings, attending town halls, and writing letters to the editor and articles for publication. Small business owners vote and they will make sure their elected officials have the best interests of small business at heart.