USF St. Pete students react to their volunteer experiences on New Hampshire presidential campaigns


Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary on Tuesday; the second- and third-place finishers, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar, also earned delegates with their strong performance.

They had help on their campaigns from political science students from the University of South Florida at St. Petersburg.

Peyton Johnson, a senior majoring in political science, volunteered for the Sanders campaign.

“I think we accomplished what we came to do. And we touched a lot of voters. I am really confident going into Super Tuesday that we will be able to maintain the momentum that we have here.

“And when we go back to Florida, I know a lot of us have plans to continue to canvas and phone bank and intern in those offices, because we feel so strongly that Bernie Sanders will be our next president.”

SK: What was it like talking to voters in New Hampshire? What were some of the issues that were important to them? And when you met Bernie Sanders supporters, what were they supporting him for?

“Mainly, in New Hampshire, I was talking to a lot of people who were still undecided. I mean, it was so ironic for me to talk to voters who were two to three days from going to the polls and not having a decision yet.

“Because in Florida, most of us know going in, you know, a week, two weeks before. But because there’s such a grassroots movement here, they get to see the candidates all the time. But, I think that it was exciting, yet heartbreaking at the same time, to hear what the Trump administration has done and how it has impacted some of the voters here in New Hampshire.

“We talked to a lot of people who have family members who have reached their cap for Medicare and have medical bills piling up. And their parents are sick and they can’t get help. Or they have student loans that are so high that they can’t pay them anymore. And it was heartbreaking. But it also reassured me that the votes that we got were genuine and not just because they were just trying to beat Donald Trump. That they actually believed in candidate Sanders’ policies.”


University of South Florida students work on 2020 election
USF St. Petersburg class will travel to New Hampshire to work on 2020 presidential primary campaigns. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (30 Jan. 2020).

SK: As someone who worked on a campaign that won the state what can you say about the experience, and what you look forward to going forward?

“The experience was, I think the best word to use is ‘euphoric.’ I have never worked in a campaign that everyone was so excited and had so much faith in someone that they didn’t know. And for us to be fighting in the rain, in the cold, in the snow for someone who we didn’t know really said something about American democracy.

“And I learned a lot about a process, and how really grassroots organization really impacts each and every one of our lives. And I think one of those takeaways that your vote really does matter, especially here in this state. Also, in Iowa. Bernie won the popular vote in Iowa and he won the popular vote here. And I have confidence that he will go on to win the electoral college and become our next president.”

But not all the USF students worked for campaigns that did well. First-year political science student Manuel Rodriguez volunteered for former Vice President Joe Biden, who came in fifth.

“I mean, I was expecting it. Because just seeing how the other students were talking about their campaigns, I knew that not a lot of resources were going to Iowa and New Hampshire. And he’s definitely prioritizing in Nevada and South Carolina.

“So, I wasn’t disappointed. I knew was going to happen. When I talked to voters, they were pretty much all set, until you got to the undecided. And the undecided had a bunch of different options. So, it’s really hard to concentrate, you know, them onto one voter.”


SK: When you talk to voters, especially voters who said that they were supporting Joe Biden, what were some of the issues that were important to them?

“The number one issue, I think for everybody across the candidates, was to get this guy out of the White House. But definitely, that was an appeal to Biden. A lot of people, including me, feel like he has that electability factor. So, that was definitely number one.

And then number two, they just wanted somebody who would just be a good, decent, honest, caring person. And I can tell you that, for a fact, when I met him the first time, and I shook his hand, I definitely — I knew him, and I hadn’t even met him. That’s the feeling that I got from him.

“And I know he’s like that with every single person. I know he can work with people.

“He knows, he understands suffering because he experienced suffering. And he knows how to connect with humans. And I think those are the feelings that people get from him. That’s how he connects to people.”

SK: When you talk about shaking his hand, is that something that happened in New Hampshire? And if so, describe what happened.

“So, this was the first town hall that I had worked with the three other Biden people. We had basically set up an event in Concord for him to come speak at a local Town Hall public event. So, one of the other students was like, ‘Oh let’s go take a photo with him.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’

“But there was this long line. We had to push through and we’re pretty small people compared to the rest. So, we pushed through. And then I got to take his hand. And I immediately just got this warm presence as if, he’s there, I’m there. He knows what he’s doing. He loves what he’s doing. He doesn’t seem like a politician. He just seems like one human talking to another human talking about what both care about. And immediately I got that vibe, which tells you something about the person. And yeah, it was really special.”

Jazzy Duarte is a senior majoring in environmental science and policy at USF St. Petersburg. She volunteered in New Hampshire with the Klobuchar campaign.

“It was kind of insane. So, we were just doing some poll visibility throughout the day. So, just sitting outside of the polls, getting everyone excited about voting for Amy. And then we headed over to Concord where they were having the victory party.

“And we just walk in and we see the TV with the results on, and we were just like ‘Oh my gosh, she’s in third place! Do we start freaking out right now or what?’ And it was just really exciting.

“We felt the excitement in the room from all the people, like the staff, the volunteers, the supporters. Just so proud of her because it was a moment that she definitely deserves.

“She was one of those candidates that not everyone believed was going to make it. And she always talks about it in her speeches how they didn’t think she was going to make it through her first state in announcing her candidacy. And then now they didn’t think she was going to make it to summer. But here she is, pushing through New Hampshire, and then going to go to Nevada and South Carolina.”

SK: You probably spoke with a lot of voters. What was it about Amy Klobuchar that they told you that changed their minds? And maybe, I might specifically ask if anyone mentioned the debate?

“Yes. So that was a huge thing. When we were like making calls, being sure that people knew about everything with Amy Klobuchar, they said that the debate was the big turning point for their vote.”


SK: And finally, what were some of the issues that people said were important to them?

“So, we got a lot of issues. I think that the biggest one was defeating Donald Trump. That was a huge issue that people just wanted to combat.

“But then also just having someone in office who’s actually going to make change.

“Some other issues that people directly classified: healthcare was something really big. Climate change was a big one. Education was a big one.

“So, I think just talking about all of those simultaneously while trying to advocate for Amy’s campaign was really, really big. And just seeing how much she’s developed as a leader on the candidate stage. And seeing how well she is doing public speaking. But then also talking with her constituents and seeing what they really need. And how she can effectively do that while in office is something that’s transcending among everyone else.”

The professor of the course is Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan. The students are blogging. You can read it here. And here is a link to the course blog.

Three Democratic presidential candidates have dropped out since polls closed on Tuesday: Deval Patrick, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang.

Florida’s presidential preference primary election is March 17. The deadline to register to vote or to change your party is Tuesday, February 18.

The voting information below was provided by the local Supervisors of Elections:

Supervisors of Elections in the Tampa Bay area are working together to help citizens get ready to vote in the upcoming 2020 Presidential Preference Primary Election. It’s especially important to understand that voters may only vote in the county in which they reside, and that counties in Florida hold Early Voting for different periods of time depending on what works best in each county.



1. Vote By Mail
Contact your Supervisor of Elections Office no later than March 7 to request that a ballot be mailed to you, or you may pick up a mail ballot at an elections office in your county. Mail ballots must be received by your Supervisor of Elections no later than 7 p.m., March 17.
What to Know about Vote By Mail

— Don’t forget to sign your Vote By Mail envelope before returning it.

— Make sure you have a current signature on file with your Supervisor of Elections Office. You can update your signature by completing a printed or online voter registration application. (An online application will add your most recent Florida Driver License or Florida State ID signature to your voter

— Be consistent when signing your mail ballot return envelope. Signatures are compared to those on file with the elections office.

— You may mail your ballot back, or contact your Supervisor of Elections for a list of ballot drop-off locations.

— If you mail the ballot back, make sure to allow plenty of time for it to be received. We recommend that you allow at least a week for your mailed ballot to reach your elections office. If your ballot isn’t in your county’s elections office by 7 p.m. Election Day, it will not be counted.

2. Early Voting

During Early Voting, you may vote at any Early Vote site in your county.
Dates, times and locations vary by county (see list below). Important: you must vote in the county you live in.

What to Bring to an Early Vote Site

— Current and valid photo and signature ID. Acceptable forms of identification include: FL Driver License, FL ID Card (issued by DHSMV), US Passport, Debit or Credit Card, Military ID, Student ID, Retirement Center ID, Neighborhood Association ID, Public Assistance ID, Veteran Health ID (issued by VA), Concealed Weapon License (issued pursuant to s. 790.06), Government Employee ID. If you do not bring ID, you may vote a provisional ballot.

— Your sample ballot. You may mark your sample ballot and use it as a reference.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 2 – 15, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: Apollo Beach Community Center*, Austin Davis Public Library*,
Bloomingdale Regional Public Library, Bruton Memorial Library, C. Blythe
Andrews, Jr. Public Library, Fred B. Karl County Center, Jan Kaminis Platt
Regional Library, Jimmie B. Keel Regional Public Library, Maureen B. Gauzza
Public Library, New Tampa Regional Library, North Tampa Branch Library,
Northdale Recreation Center, Northwest Elections Office*, Port Tampa Community
Center, Providence West Community Center*, Riverview Branch Library, Robert
L. Gilder Elections Service Center, Southeast Elections Office*, SouthShore
Regional Library, Temple Terrace Public Library, Town N Country Regional
Public Library, West Tampa Branch Library, USF TECO Hall (David C. Anchin
(* denotes a new location)

PINELLAS COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 7 – 15, Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.,
Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Locations: County Courthouse Supervisor of Elections Office, Supervisor of
Elections Office Election Service Center, Supervisor of Elections Office
County Building

PASCO COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 7 – 14, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: East Pasco Government Center, New River Library, Land O’ Lakes
Library, Alice Hall Community Center, Advent Health Center ICE, Pasco County
Utilities Admin Building, Odessa Community Center, Regency Park Library, South
Holiday Library, West Pasco Government Center, Hudson Library

POLK COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 2 – 14, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: Polk Street Community Center, Ridgeview Plaza in Davenport, Haines
City Library, Polk County Govt. Center in Lakeland, Simpson Park Community
Center, James P Austin Community Center, Mulberry Civic Center, Poinciana
Community Center, Gill Jones NE Polk County Govt. Center

SUMTER COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 7 – 14, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: Laurel Manor Recreation, Allamanda Recreation Center, Rohan
Recreation Center, Tierra Del Sol Recreation Center, Bushnell Annex, The
Villages Sumter County Service Center

HERNANDO COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 6 – 14, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Locations: South Brooksville Community Center, Spring Hill Branch Library,
Supervisor of Elections Branch Office/Forest Oaks Government Center

MANATEE COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 7 – 14, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: Supervisor of Elections Office, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall, Palmetto
Library, Rocky Bluff Library, Manatee County Utilities Administrative Offices
(New – Replaces Westside Fire Location)

CITRUS COUNTY EARLY VOTING: March 6 – 14, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Locations: Central Ridge Library, Crystal River Elections Office, Homosassa
Public Library, Inverness City Hall

3. Election Day: March 17, 2020, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Florida law states that on Election Day you may only vote in the polling place
assigned to your current residence address. You are encouraged to update your
address prior to Election Day to avoid delays at your polling place. If you
don’t know where your polling place is, call your Supervisor of Elections or
check their website.

What to Bring on Election Day

— Current and valid photo and signature ID. Acceptable forms of
identification include: FL Driver License, FL ID Card (issued by DHSMV), US
Passport, Debit or Credit Card, Military ID, Student ID, Retirement Center ID,
Neighborhood Association ID, Public Assistance ID, Veteran Health ID (issued
by VA), Concealed Weapon License (issued pursuant to s. 790.06), Government
Employee ID. If you do not bring ID, you may vote a provisional ballot.

— Your sample ballot. You may mark your sample ballot and use it as a

Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections (813) 744-5900
Robert L. Gilder Elections Service Center, 2514 N. Falkenburg Rd., Tampa,
Florida 33619
Fred B. Karl County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., 16th Floor, Tampa, Florida
Southeast Regional Office, 10020 South U.S. Hwy. 301, Riverview, FL 33578
Northwest Regional Office, 4575 Gunn Hwy., Tampa, FL 33624
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo: HillsboroughSOE

Deborah Clark, Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections (727) 464-VOTE (8683)
Election Service Center, 13001 Starkey Rd., Starkey Lakes Corporate Center,
Largo, FL 33773
County Courthouse, 315 Court St., Room 117, Clearwater, FL 33756
County Building, 501 First Ave. N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Facebook: PinellasCountySOE Twitter and Instagram: @VotePinellas

Brian E. Corley, Pasco County Supervisor of Elections (352) 521-4302
East Pasco Government Center, 14236 6th St., Suite 200, Dade City, FL 33523
West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Dr., Suite 110, New Port Richey,
FL 34654
Central Pasco Professional Center, 4111 Land O’Lakes Blvd., Suite 105, Land
O’Lakes, FL 34639
Facebook: PascoElections Twitter: @votepasco

Lori Edwards, Polk County Supervisor of Elections (863) 534-5888
Headquarters, 250 S. Broadway Ave., Bartow, FL 33830
Operations Center, 70 Florida Citrus Blvd., Winter Haven, FL 33880
Facebook: PolkElections Twitter: @PolkElections1

William “Bill” Keen, Sumter County Supervisor of Elections (352) 569-1540
Main office, 7375 Powell Road, Suite 125, Wildwood, FL 34785
Bushnell Annex Office, 316 E. Anderson Ave., Bushnell, FL 33513

Shirley Anderson, Hernando County Supervisor of Elections (352) 754-4125
20 N. Main St., Room 165, Brooksville, FL 34601
7443 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, FL 34606
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter: HernandoVotes

Michael S. Bennett, Manatee County Supervisor of Elections (941) 741-3823
600 301 Blvd. W. Suite 108, Bradenton, FL 34205
Facebook: Manatee-County-Supervisor-Of-Elections

Susan Gill, Citrus County Supervisor of Elections (352) 564-7120
1500 N. Meadowcrest Blvd., Crystal River, FL 34428, (352) 564-7120
Facebook: Citrus County Supervisor of Elections


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