From the Chair’s Desk — Your Weekly Update

16 mins read

Dear Florida Democrats,

We hope each of you and your loved ones are doing well and staying safe during these unprecedented times.

As you may have seen in the news this week, Democrats are continuing to fight for what is best for the people and hold Republicans accountable for the harm their failed policies are causing. See the multiple news stories in the Latest FDP News Digest below.

One example you may have read about is the unemployment insurance debacle created by Rick Scott and the Republican legislature since 2011. Now in the midst of this health crisis that is causing many Floridians to lose their jobs, the Sunshine State offers some of the worst unemployment benefits in the country and Floridians struggle to get through the outdated and broken system to even apply for the benefits. Together with our Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried and our Congressional, Legislative, and local elected officials, I have called on our governor to take immediate action to fix our unemployment insurance system. If Floridians can’t file a state claim, they aren’t eligible for the additional federal unemployment benefits our Congressional leaders passed.

Social distancing requirements have hindered our candidates’ abilities to qualify by petition. The week before last, we sent a letter to Secretary of State Laurel Lee, asking her to both extend the deadline to submit petitions and to allow petitions to be submitted digitally and in bulk. Late Friday we received her ruling — a partial win. Candidates are now able to submit signed petitions via email; however, the deadline to qualify has not been extended. We’ve called again for Secretary Lee to extend the deadline for candidates to qualify by petition.

Additionally this week on behalf of the FDP, I joined 50 other State Democratic Parties in signing a letter to federal officials demanding immediate action to make voting easier and more accessible in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. We asked lawmakers to appropriate at least $2 billion to allow states to make improvements to their electoral systems to ensure every voice is heard come November 3, 2020, no matter what.

I know that despite our physical separation right now, we remain a united, unstoppable force to turn Florida Blue in November. See below for the many ways we are still able to engage both volunteers and voters. And, if you are able, please reach out to check with your friends and neighbors, especially those who may be alone, and do what you can to help those in need, even while sheltering in place. We are all in this together.

As of Sunday, April 5, there are exactly 212 days — 7 months — to November 3, 2020.

Terrie Rizzo
Florida Democratic Party

Vote by Mail

This week, FDP and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) launched a massive texting campaign to encourage Floridians to register to vote-by-mail. Hundreds of volunteers will text over one million Florida voters asking them to vote-by-mail in the upcoming elections. Sign up to join the effort here!

The DNC and FDP built a strong campaign infrastructure early and are quickly adapting it to function digitally. For example,in late January, the DNC bought tens of millions of cell phone numbers across the country, including Florida, to improve voter contact. Record vote-by-mail turnout is the reason more Democrats voted in the 2020 Florida presidential preference primary compared to 2016, despite lower in-person turnout on election day. Vote-by-mail is a reliable and safe method for Floridians to vote during this time of uncertainty.

FDP Executive Director Juan Peñalosa says, “We need to modernize our voting systems to protect voters, and our partnership with the DNC to enroll Floridians in vote-by-mail does just that. If Trump and DeSantis won’t act to protect the vote from a global pandemic, we will.” 

Issue ID Phonebanks

With a new focus on digital outreach to voters, it’s more important than ever that our messaging is deployed effectively. In order to better target voters online, we’ve developed Issue ID virtual phonebanks for each county, easily found on our website:


The Issue IDs are needed to help us identify the issues most important to persuadable NPA voters in your county. These phonebanks will allow us to engage our volunteers while face-to-face voter contact is unsafe, and will define county specific messaging to move persuadable voters in each county.

We need to make at least 40,000 calls to collect enough data to create content and scripts that will persuade NPA voters to vote for Democrats.

Need help convincing your volunteers that phonebanking can be fun? Share our Virtual Phonebank Bingo card!

Training Resources

The deadline to register for The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC) Best Practices Institute (BPI) 2020 Train the Trainer (T3) Webinar Training Program is Sunday, April 5 at 11:59 p.m. ET. T3 is a free, six-week, twelve-part webinar course, covering several aspects of grassroots campaigning. Trainings are Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET April 7 through May 14Click Here to Register for T3 today, ask two Democrats to join you, and help us take our country back in 2020!

T3 participants must complete all 12 sessions in order to receive certification. All training sessions will include a skills test to track retention and participation. Trainings will be recorded and made available following each session via a weekly wrap-up email.

DNC and BPI are also launching a webinar series dedicated to building organizational stability during this time of social distancing. The first webinar is Wednesday, April 8 at 4 p.m. ET – Team Blue Pipeline Program: Organizational Stability- Moving Offline Organizing Online

Our Digital Team has put together guides to help you transition to meeting and organizing online:

Additional training opportunities are listed here.

Virtual Voting Rights Panel

The DNC Voter Protection and Mobilization Team are co-hosting a Voting Rights Panel, featuring voting rights attorney Marc Elias, DNC CEO Seema Nanda, and DNC Director of Voter Protection and Civic Engagement Reyna Walters-Morgan. The panel will cover voting rights during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual panel will be on Monday, April 6 at 5:30 p.m. ESTRegister here!

Vote by Mail Twitter Town Hall

We are hosting a Twitter Town Hall on Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m. ET to encourage Floridians to Vote by Mail, and we want you and all your friends to participate! In the midst of this public health crisis, our number one priority is ensuring our communities are staying safe and that our vote is protected. That’s why we are pushing to modernize our elections and urging voters to vote by mail. But we need all hands on deck.

Help us get the word out and increase voter turnout in 2020This is how it works: 

  • Share the #MailTheVoteFL Twitter Town Hall Toolkit with your Democratic networks for all the event details, including promotion, questions, messaging, and graphics
  • Join the Twitter Town Hall Friday at 5 p.m. ET by using your personal and / or your organization’s Twitter account(s) to answer the questions that @FlaDems is asking (hint: we’ve included the questions and messaging points for you in the Toolkit!)
  • Retweet our questions with a comment, including the official #MailTheVoteFL hashtag (use the messaging provided in the Toolkit)
  • Engage with other Twitter Town Hall participants by following their accounts, liking responses, and retweeting them with the #MailTheVoteFL hashtag

Leadership Blue Gala Weekend Postponed

Given the projections regarding COVID-19, we have postponed this year’s Leadership Blue Gala weekend. We are working to reschedule the event.

If you booked a room at Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club, please call 407-939-4686 for reservation cancellation.

Voter Registration

In February, without any knowledge of how important it would be, we ran a digital test for online voter registration and received the results back this month. It was really successful, enabling us to register 1,920 voters and learn valuable lessons. We are now expanding this model into a $50,000 monthly program to continue to register voters. To help us fund this new program, please share the below link.

Digital Actions to Take Today

We know people are looking for meaningful activities and ways to connect with like-minded people during this crisis. Be proactive and help people join our digital organizing movement! Here are steps you can take and share to support our mission while staying safer at home:

Emergency Rule of Procedure

To help DECs, Caucuses, and Clubs continue to conduct business as needed during restrictions on public gatherings, on March 24, Chair Terrie Rizzo issued the following Emergency Rule of Procedure, pursuant to Article 1, Section 2.2 of the FDP Bylaws:

Authorizing DECs, Clubs and Caucuses of the FDP to utilize communications media technology, such as telephonic and video conferencing, to conduct business required under the Charter and Bylaws of the FDP and/or the respective Bylaws of the County DEC, FDP Party Caucus, or Democratic Party Club during the duration of the declared state of emergency for the State of Florida. Consistent with this authorization, all other requirements, including quorum and vote requirements, applicable to DECs, FDP Party Caucuses, and Democratic Party Clubs’ activities remain in effect.

Read the memorandum from Chair Rizzo here.
If you are conducting votes during your virtual meetings, be sure you have the means to identify who is attending the meeting (to ensure there is a quorum) and to document vote counts. Robert’s Rules recommends ratifying votes taken during virtual meetings at your next in-person meeting. If you have any specific questions, please contact

DNC’s Best Practices Institute April Activist Challenge

Despite physical distance, there are still many ways that Democrats can work together to move our Party forward. This month, the DNC’s Best Practices Institute (BPI) is challenging activists to work with their local Democratic Party organizations to create a space for virtual engagement. Below are a few ideas to get you started.

  • Social Media Engagement:
  • Create a local Party Facebook survey asking voters what issues they care about most
  • Retweet some local leaders on your Twitter account
  • Post a “selfie story” on Instagram or Facebook about how you’re helping Democrats in the age of social distancing
  • Virtual Informational Sessions:
  • Host a virtual update from a local elected official
  • Organize a tele-town hall with a local candidate
  • Conduct a virtual voter registration training
  • Virtual Social Events:
  • Create a virtual book club
  • Host a local Dems virtual happy hour
  • Organize a local candidate virtual meet and greet
  • Free tools for digital engagement: 
  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Live
  • Zoom 
  • Skype
  • Bonus: Think of another creative engagement idea? Tell BPI about it at
  • Once you’ve completed the challenge, take a selfie and create a post on social media that includes the following information:
  • Your name
  • Your state
  • A short statement about what motivates you to help elect Democrats in 2020
  • These hashtags: #BPItraining and #ChallengeAccepted
  • And don’t forget to tag @TheDemocrats and @FlaDems

Virtual Rural Tours

Our Rural Tours will continue via Zoom. Chair Terrie Rizzo will host these video conferences to connect with people in smaller counties and rural areas and have honest conversations about issues affecting our communities. Video conferencing details will be emailed to those who register.

DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.

Florida Democrats believe in effective and efficient government that prioritizes quality education, affordable health care, and an economy in which anyone who works hard can succeed.

Most importantly, we believe that we are stronger together. We believe the fundamental American promise — that you can go as far as your own hard work will take you — should shine brightest in Florida.

That is why we champion the middle class and cherish the principle that all Floridians should have the opportunity to work hard and succeed. That is why we will never stop fighting for better public schools, because education is the surest path to a better life for millions.

From standing for affordable health care and better schools to fighting for civil rights and access to the ballot box, Florida Democrats are leading every day to move our state forward.

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