Pinellas Dems not happy with Chick-fil-A voter registration drive

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Pinellas Dems not happy with Chick-fil-A voter registration drive
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The Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections' office's decision to hold a voter registration drive at, of all places, a series of Chick-fil-A locations throughout the county Tuesday is irking a local Democratic Party leader.

Susan McGrath, head of the Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee as well as the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats, a pro-LGBT equality group, penned a letter to Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark asking her to maybe pick a different spot next time around, given past homophobic comments made by greasy fast-food restaurant's proprietors, among other things.

She's also concerned that Clark, a Republican, held the drives at nine of the popular fast food joint's locations because the place isn't exactly a beacon for people who vote Democrat, given said homophobic comments.

"As an elected official, you have a duty to be evenhanded and fair," McGrath wrote. "Surely, you and your office staff do understand that using Chick-Fil-A as the base for voter registration activities is not only inherently unfair but overtly partisan as well. This company has a strong and well-understood history of anti-LGBT activism and is publicly associated with Republican Party values."

Tuesday marked National Voter Registration Day, an effort to get people on the voter rolls ahead of the registration deadline, which is in October.

Holding such events at Chick-fil-A certainly would be likely to bring in a different type of voter than, say, holding them at an Evos or Rollin' Oats, and McGrath said she thinks a recent surge in the number of registered Democrats in the county may be an impetus to hold the drive somewhere in which Democrats tend to not want to set foot.

"While some Democrats may occasionally dine at Chick-Fil-A (and perhaps even members of the LGBT community), the coordination of Pinellas voter registration activities with this right-leaning business very clearly conveys that your office is targeting Republican-leaning voters," McGrath wrote.

Couple that decision with the supervisor's unwillingness to consider a second early voting site in predominantly African-American south St. Pete, McGrath said, and a pattern of favoring Republicans over Democrats emerges.

The SOE's office disagrees.

Spokesman Jason Latimer told the Tampa Bay Times the events are by no means partisan, and that the office holds voter registration drives at all hundreds of locales and events throughout the county.

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