Democrats, Republicans focus on voter engagement as midterm elections near

Tuesday last day to register to vote for Nov. 8 election
Elections signs in Okeechobee County for midterm elections, Oct. 10, 2022
Posted at 5:12 PM, Oct 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-10 17:23:15-04

OKEECHOBEE, Fla. — The midterm elections are less than 30 days away. While party leaders are trying to rally their bases, not everyone is engaged.

In downtown Okeechobee, closed storefront signs indicated that Monday was a quieter day.

But that was not the case at Kay’s Lace Boutique. Katelyn Shaw was busy showing off a row of women's dresses.

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She first opened her store three years ago, and while this small business owner is excited over her latest collection, she and her friends are less interested in the collection of candidates running for office.

"I have girls from [age] 18 all the way up to 50-60, and I don't hear none of them talk about it," Shaw said.

Katelyn Shaw, small business owner in Okeechobee County
Katelyn Shaw shares her thoughts about the upcoming midterm elections and politics in general.

But politics is what they're talking about at the Okeechobee Republican headquarters.

County chairman Jim Craig said he's confident about his party's chances in November, especially after witnessing Gov. Ron DeSantis after Hurricane Ian.

"Governor DeSantis is doing a fantastic job," Craig said. "He's got the right people in the right places, and it's going to be a long time, but we expect a good recovery."

Okeechobee Democrats chair Austin Harvey said there were no Democrats running in countywide races this year.

Okeechobee Republican Chairman Jim Craig
Okeechobee Republican Chairman Jim Craig shares his party's enthusiasm for the upcoming elections.

He knows he, like DeSantis challenger Charlie Crist, has an uphill climb in a county with nearly twice as many Republicans. However, he said they're starting to build a foundation.

"Myself, I was happy to see that our governor and our president were able to work together," Harvey said.

If you're not registered to vote and want to participate in the November election, Tuesday is the last day you can register to vote.

Austin Harvey, Okeechobee Democrats chair
Austin Harvey of the Okeechobee County Democratic Party was encouraged that President Joe Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis met last week after Hurricane Ian devastated southwest Florida.

"You need a signature ID, and a photo ID, something that identifies who you are," Okeechobee Supervisor of Elections Melissa Arnold said.

Arnold said she's noticed an uptick in voter interest as the general election approaches.

Back in her boutique, Shaw said maybe when she's older she'll register to vote. But as a 19-year-old mother of two whose kids have faced health challenges, her focus is home first.

"I feel like there are doctors appointments and being able to pay my bills at home and that there's a roof on our house," Shaw said. "That's more important to me than anything else."

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