League of Women Voters launch Mission 1313 to increase turnout in election process

Special to the Tallahassee Democrat

The League of Women Voters of Tallahassee (LWVT) has launched a pilot project aimed at overcoming low voter turnout—one that uses intensive campaigning methods in an effort to spur voter participation and combat voter apathy.

Dubbed Mission 1313, its focus is Precinct 1313, comprised of several Southside Tallahassee neighborhoods where voter turnout has been lower than the county rate from 2014 through 2020. Located to the south and west of Florida A & M University, about 75% of the precinct’s roughly 3,500 registered voters are African-American and one fourth are women aged 18-40. These women became the target group for Mission 1313.  

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LWVT President Trish Neely said that while the local League has reached thousands of voters over the years through a range of community outreach activities, Mission 1313 is the first time it has gone directly to a targeted community to do voter outreach.

Trish Neely is the incoming president of the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee.

Trish Neely is the incoming president of the League of Women Voters of Tallahassee. 


League members began work on the project in August 2021, laying groundwork for the campaign. In meetings with church leaders and community activists, they learned Precinct 1313 residents face numerous barriers to voting, including apathetic attitudes, limited information and lack of transportation.

Recent changes mandated by the Legislature, including realignment of voting districts and new polling places for some voters, as well as changes in the requirements for voter registration and mail-in-ballots, can be confusing.

Mission 1313 is tackling the first two barriers by providing voters with information about the voting process and why it’s important to “be a voter.”  In addition to the door-to-door canvassing, the Mission 1313 volunteers have conducted an “information blitz.”

Along with distributing voter information at church and community events, the League has sent out numerous handwritten post cards, distributed door hangars and information sheets and placed yard signs in key areas of the precinct.

In keeping with longstanding League tradition, Mission 1313 is strictly nonpartisan. While residents may be asked if they’re registered to vote, there’s no discussion of candidates or party affiliation. Nor do Mission 1313 volunteers do any arm-twisting to convince people to vote. Instead, they provide a wealth of information about the election process, encouraging residents to contact the Leon County Supervisor’s Office and the Florida Secretary of State’s voter registration website.

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League volunteers say they have been overwhelmed by the degree of misinformation about the voting process as well as distrust of the election system and government in general.  They also have to overcome the perception that one vote doesn’t matter.

“There has been so much misinformation that it has the effect of disenfranchising people,” one volunteer said.  Their goal is to make voters aware of how to get accurate information on the voting process and various ways they can cast their ballots.

Since not all residents have access to a smart phone or computer, one-on-one contact by the Mission 1313 volunteers canvassing the neighborhood plays a key role in making information available and encouraging voter participation. 

The Mission 1313 project will continue through the 2022 election cycle, and now includes Precinct 1312, which covers the Providence and Elberta Empire neighborhoods in southwest Tallahassee. This precinct was formerly part of Precinct 1313. The Supervisor of Elections office created the new precinct as a result of redistricting required by the 2020 Census.  

“If we can raise the turnout rate by 1 or 2% in those two precincts, that would be a victory,” according to one volunteer.

“League volunteers deserve medals for their determination and doggedness,” Neely said. “Because of their efforts, I remain optimistic that even if we only manage baby steps forward in meeting the objectives this election cycle, we’ll have a blueprint for 2024.” She hopes to eventually share the model with other local Leagues across the state. 

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