Operation Panhandle Vote

From Thursday, November 1, 2018 to Tuesday, November 6, over 65 patriots from across Florida drove to Panama City in Bay County, Florida to canvass a list of 26,000 voters over five days in the hurricane-ravaged regions of the Florida Panhandle.

Click here for pictures from Operation Panhandle Vote (Facebook)

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This was like part short-term missions’ trip, part disaster recovery effort and part political door to door canvassing, but it was truly one of the most amazing projects we ever had the privilege of being part of.  Each vehicle had a bright FREE RIDE TO THE POLLS signs and teams went out two by two to cover streets more efficiently.  Our teams prayed with hundreds of voters on their doorsteps, outside on front lawns and amid devastation to their own personal property.  Many tears were shed.

There were so many stories of the people who were grateful that a person cared enough to drive all the way up to the Panhandle area to remind them to vote.  We gave out special polling place fliers, voter guides, bottles of water and snacks.  Several voters who had transportation issues also accepted rides directly to the polls on the spot.

We also ran a highly targeted Facebook and Instagram ad campaign to identify and communicate with the thousands of people who were displaced and living outside their homes in hotels, friend’s houses and shelters.  Calls for voter information and requests for rides to the polls were then routed to our office and then delivered directly to the teams on the ground. We also recorded and delivered automated call which was also sent to thousands of voters in the region who had not voted yet letting them know about the upcoming election and where they could call to get voter information or a ride to the polls.

Our team of workers were some of the finest, most dedicated folks I have ever met.  They included pastors, veterans, teenagers, seniors, missionaries, mothers and fathers with their children and even a bank president!  All who signed up loved God, loved their country and wanted to see every person effected by the storm to have the opportunity to vote.

They worked in the cold, they worked in the rain, they worked in the dark, and they worked up to 10 hours a day.  They climbed over fallen trees, walked around damaged buildings, and even though the workers were all given Sunday morning off, many refused the personal time and just continued to work.

The effort went largely unnoticed by the mainstream media.  Newsmax, a conservative news blog did a nice write up (see below) with details on the event.

This was a unique and strategic moment in history which we had the privilege of being part of and was only made possible by your prayers, your financial support and for your direct participation.  Thank you so much.  We are grateful to God for you and for the final results of this extremely close election.

FINAL REPORT BY THE NUMBERS:

26,026 total voters on walk lists
5 days of working/walking door to door
65 workers on our team
Untold prayers prayed at the doorsteps of homes
15,000 flyers distributed showing special polling places
12,500 voter guides distributed

58.87% Final Bay County Voter Turn-Out:
Bay County Voter Breakdown:

Democrat                 15,870                       24.75%
Republican               38,922                       60.70%
NPA                            8,845                       13.79%

Total Votes Cast Statewide in 2018 Mid Term Election:
8.19 million votes cast in the official final results statewide
By 10,033 votes Rick Scott won the US Senate race ahead of Bill Nelson
By 32,463 Ron DeSantis won the Governor’s race ahead of Andrew Gillum

Finally, we are grateful to God for you and the remarkable RESULTS we have been able to accomplish in this and in so many other areas with your prayers, financial support and by just being willing to stand with us in heart and mind.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  We pray you have a peaceful and joy filled Thanksgiving with family and friends.

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An article recently published in NEWSMAX, shares this powerful story:

Volunteers Work in Fla. Panhandle to Get ‘Hurricane’ Voters to Polls
By David A. Patten, 06 Nov, 2018

In a storm-struck region of Florida that overwhelmingly favors conservatives, would-be voters tell relief workers they’re “just struggling to survive.”

Most polling places and indeed most structures are damaged or destroyed in the wake of Hurricane Michael. Shelters are packed, people don’t have roofs on their homes, and thousands have been displaced.

Florida Family Action, a social-conservative organization led by John Stemberger, has launched Operation Panhandle to provide voter assistance.

Stemberger’s team of 60 volunteers are navigating storm-tossed neighborhoods and shelters to help Hurricane Michael refugees get to the new, centralized polling locations there that have replaced the normal election infrastructure blown away by the storm, one of the strongest to ever hit the United States.

Over the weekend Stemberger filed this report from the front lines of the relief effort:

“I am writing this email in real time on the ground from the hurricane ravaged regions of North Florida where we are fully engaged in an emergency get out the vote (GOTV) campaign called “Operation Panhandle Vote.’

“We have set up our headquarters in Panama City, Bay County where the devastation was the worst and it is more serious than I could have ever imagined.

“As you read this, I am leading a group of about 65 of our volunteers and other modestly paid workers who have come from all across Florida to be part of this effort. We are walking through damaged neighborhoods, offering people voting information, poll location flyers, voter guides, snacks, water, a prayer and a ride to the polls.

“In some areas over 50 percent of the residential, commercial and government buildings have been completely destroyed. The power is just now being turned on for some households after weeks without it in the rural areas.

“The devastation is so bad, that two of our older volunteers told me yesterday that it was simply more than they expected or could handle and had to head back home. They were just exhausted and overwhelmed by it. It truly is a major disaster area.

“One pastor who is a very good friend of ours from one of the largest churches in the area said, ‘John, we can’t even take any more voter guides for other churches from you right now. We are feeding 8,000 people a day, most of our buildings have been damaged and we can barely keep up with just surviving…’

“Another pastor described people in his church spending most of their days just digging personal belongings from their wrecked homes and guarding their property from looters.

“After learning they did not have insurance for wind damage, many families have no way to think about rebuilding from the rubble of their properties.

“I have been in active communication with the Supervisors of Elections [SEO] in Bay and surrounding counties.

“Pursuant to the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order on Hurricane Michael, the SEO has designated voting/polling places available and open, six major Mega Polling sites. This morning we are also moving into and canvassing Calhoun, Gadsden, and Franklin counties.

“It is somewhat challenging approaching people in the midst of this kind of suffering and reminding them to vote but this area is critical to every statewide election in Florida and it has been hit hard.

“The people here were so glad to be reminded of the election as it has just been completely off the radar for thousands of voters here. These votes could make the difference in this very close election.”

“This project was certainly not in our annual operating budget, but the votes of these good people are just as important as yours or mine, so we are doing everything in our power to help them make their vote count!”

Stemberger asks anyone able to support the Operation Panhandle relief effort to consider making a donation.

© 2018 Newsmax. All rights reserved. Read the originally published article at Newsmax.com here.