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Sit-in legislators want better voter turnout

Backed by groups opposed to Gov. Jeb Bush's One Florida plan, the legislators plan to crisscross the state.

By LUCY MORGAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- A coalition formed after a successful march on Tallahassee earlier this year is launching an effort to increase voter turnout among women and minorities in November.

Sen. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, and Rep. Tony Hill, D-Jacksonville, started a tour of several North Florida cities Monday to spark interest in "Arrive with Five," an effort to get people to turn out and vote with five others on Nov. 7.

They'll be joined by Barbara Devane-Gilberg, an activist for the National Organization for Women who joined the two legislators earlier this year in a sit-in at the Capitol. The three made headlines when they refused to leave Lt. Gov. Frank Brogan's office until Gov. Jeb Bush was willing to meet with them and discuss his One Florida Plan, a proposal to modify the state's affirmative action programs.

Meek said the group plans to educate voters on issues that will protect women's rights and guard against attacks on public education, the judiciary and equal opportunity. Meek said the group will be funded by groups that are part of the Coalition of Conscience, the group that sponsored the March 7 march on Tallahassee. The march drew more than 10,000 protesters on opening day of the Legislature.

Although the groups that support the coalition traditionally back Democratic candidates, Meek and Hill insisted they'll be non partisan and will not endorse individual candidates. The group does not plan to register as a political action committee or submit public reports on the money it receives and spends, Meek said.

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