Elections

Wondering what’s up with the giant sign you saw on your commute? We found out for you.

“VOTE” sign on Bird Road by the Palmetto Expressway in Coral Gables.  Vote.org installed 115 billboards and bus ads in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.
“VOTE” sign on Bird Road by the Palmetto Expressway in Coral Gables. Vote.org installed 115 billboards and bus ads in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. jtavel@miamiherald.com

While honking at the guy who cut you off during your commute this morning, you might have noticed a giant sign commanding you to “VOTE.”

What’s up with that?

We’ve got answers for you. What caught your attention was one of the more than 100 billboards and bus ads installed across Miami and Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 14. The striking red and white signs, which include the word “VOTE” and the date in both English (TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6) and Spanish (MARTES, 6 DE NOVIEMBRE), are part of a nationwide campaign by Vote.org, a nonpartisan nonprofit that encourages people to vote.

Early voting in South Florida began Monday.

Overall, the organization installed more than 2,500 advertisement boards across the metropolitan areas of nine states, said Raven Brooks, Vote.org’s chief operating officer.

“We believe we can elevate the message of voting by doing the same thing big corporations do,” Brooks said.

Vote.org first tried this in 2017 for the primary in Virginia and the special election in Alabama, Brooks said. After seeing voter turnout was higher in places they had targeted, they started fundraising for the midterms.

The 2018 vote campaign is statewide in Florida, North Carolina and Mississippi. It’s also present in Dallas, Texas; Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Flint and Carrolton, Michigan; and Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.

The group selected the billboard locations based on areas where they’re already running other marketing initiatives like texting, direct mail and buying advertisements in college newspapers, Brooks said. Usually, Vote.org gears up its efforts in places where a lot of minorities and young voters reside because they’re the ones who are typically underrepresented in voter turnout.

In Florida, Vote.org picked 11 cities — Davenport, Daytona Beach, Jacksonville, Fort Lauderdale, Kissimmee, Lakeland, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach.

In addition to static billboards, the organization also placed digital ones that alternate candidate names. In Florida, the names of gubernatorial candidates will be displayed, Brooks said.

Voters will elect all 435 seats in the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterms and 35 Senate spots. Additionally, 36 governors will also be elected. Here’s a voter’s guide by the Miami Herald you can check out before you head to the polls.

Brooks said Vote.org’s take is that midterms are more important than presidential elections because the people elected during those races craft laws that affect people’s daily lives directly.

“It’s really vital that people vote,” he said.

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