MEET A MEMBER POLITICAL ORGANIZER (MPO): JACQUELYN WHEELER SAYS TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE…VOTE!October 3, 2022
Member Political Organizer (MPO) Jacquelyn “Jackie” Wheeler says the best way to protect our right to vote is to…vote.
Electing new leaders who respect everyone’s right to vote is especially critical this year and in the Florida governor’s race because the current DeSantis administration “is always coming up with something new to suppress our votes and our voice.”
She points to attacks on “Souls To The Polls;” reductions to early and mail-in voting options; a dramatic shortage of voting locations and working machines in urban areas that create long lines and reduced votes; racially-driven gerrymandering; and so much more. The DeSantis administration has also fought vehemently to reverse or impede Amendment 4 from 2018 that was supposed to restore the voting rights of disenfranchised Floridians.
It’s no surprise to her that the governor’s new “election police” already have worked to arrest and intimidate everyday working Floridians, while ignoring big companies, political insiders, GOP activists and even January 6 insurrection supporters who have been caught red-handed committing election fraud and other serious crimes.
This is because every single vote counts. In 2018, DeSantis was elected by the slimmest margin – less than one half of one percent, 49.6% vs. 49.2% -- yet has turned Florida almost into an unprecedented “one man rule” state. In addition to voter suppression and the glaring double-standard of election enforcement, he has waged a culture war to in Florida to deny women their fundamental reproductive freedoms; bully educators to whitewash history lessons; place transgender youth at risk and so much more hardship.
“Today and with this administration it’s like we’re going far back in time when only certain people could vote, and it’s really frightening,” says Wheeler. “It’s intentional and it’s personal.”
The mother of two and grandmother of three has always been an advocate and activist for her West Palm Beach community, and became an MPO with 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East to make an ever greater concrete difference. She has led phone and text banks, neighborhood canvassing and candidate screenings to boost voter registration and support leaders who will best serve working families.
She remembers when Charlie Crist previously served as governor and expanded early voting and access for everyone in the state, no matter where you lived. “Even as a Republican at the time, he understood how important it was that everyone have their chance to vote. That government should listen to and serve the people, not the other way around.”
Since then, Crist has represented Florida in the U.S. Congress, serving as a champion for working people, women and others who historically have been denied their rights or their sights on the American Dream.
Crist is the Democratic nominee, endorsed by 1199SEIU, in this November’s election for Florida governor. Candidates supported by Wheeler and 1199SEIU members in other critical elections include Val Demmings for U.S. Senator and Annette Taddeo for U.S. Congress. All of these leaders have worked closely with 1199SEIU to support voting rights and other key issues such as affordable housing, access to healthcare, safe schools and communities and more.
Wheeler encourages members to become politically active, engage, volunteer and especially to vote. She says to start the process early to make sure you are registered correctly and that your vote will count. “The people in power now in Tallahassee don’t want us to have a seat at the table,” Wheeler says. “But if we all vote, we can take it back.”
Visit www.1199votes.org for a list of 1199SEIU Florida endorsed candidates in your area. For more information on becoming an MPO or getting involved in the election, contact 1199SEIU Florida political coordinator Jason Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org or 646-413-2755.