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Shevrin Jones aims to lure more Black voters to the polls in Florida during Operation Blackout

shevrin jones
State Sen. Shevrin Jones announces Operation Blackout via Zoom.

The Democratic state senator has launched a campaign to increase the number of Black and brown voters in Florida who use vote-by mail.

The margin of victory in many recent statewide races has been razor-thin.

For Democrats, not nearly enough people in the party are turning in ballots. So state Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, is moving to increase vote-by-mail turnout from Black voters, one of their biggest voting blocs.

Jones, who is Black, is rolling out Operation Blackout. The online program will allow any Florida residents to register for mail-in ballots — regardless of party.

"We will be the only statewide organization with a statewide portal, making it easy for all voters — regardless of county residence — to enroll in vote by mail," he said during a project kickoff via Zoom. "And this portal will be public and open to all groups."

Jones said his aim is to enroll more than 40,000 voters.

Jones says he also enlisted the help of the NAACP and other groups in the year-round effort.

"The one thing I'm sick of is that we are engaging Black and brown voters only six months before elections," he said. "It's disingenuous, it's not right. We need to be doing this year-round. And that is the one promise that I gave to the NAACP."

Jones will be in Tampa and Sarasota on Friday to kick off the drive. The Tampa event will be at the Children’s Board, 1002 East Palm Ave., at 10:30 a.m.; the Sarasota event will be at the gazebo at Whitaker Park, 1455 N. Tamiami Trail, at 2 p.m.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.