Florida Republicans Hold Voter Registration Drive At Gun Show

Aug 12, 2019

Republicans working to re-elect President Donald Trump sent volunteers to a voter drive at a gun show in Pembroke Pines over the weekend. 

During campaign cycles, it's not uncommon for members of both major political parties to hold registration drives to sign up new voters. But the timing of the show—just one week after the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton—drew concerns from local residents and gun control protestors. 

"We don’t think anyone should be able to shoot 30 people in 41 seconds," said Barbara Markey, a frequent protestor of gun shows. "We don’t think military weapons should be on the street at all and they are being sold at this gun show and every other gun show."

Mary Sturm was one of two volunteers at the gun show. She responded to an email sent by the state Republican Party seeking people to "engage the community and promote the values that make this country strong, prosperous, safe and great.” Over two days, 6,000 people came through to shop for guns, parts and weapons of other sorts. 

Sturm sat behind a table draped in an America flag and a sign that read “Keep America Strong and Prosperous.”

"This was a venue that we felt would help people to get their voter registration in order," Sturm said.

But she didn't register very many new voters because nearly everyone she encountered already had their information up to date—she said she hadn't signed up a single new voter after four hours on Saturday. 

Instead, many stopped by her table to sign a petition to protect Second Amendment rights. 

Florida Democrats criticized the GOP for the timing of the drive. Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa accused Republicans of promoting NRA propaganda in the aftermath of the mass shootings last weekend, calling it "dangerous" and "unbelievable." 

Strum defended the decision to sign up voters at the show, saying she sees registration voters as a non partisan issue. "I've done voter registration at churches," she said. "They have people in there that need to maybe update their information so it's a service to the community."