After his loss in last year’s Florida gubernatorial election, former Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum did not back down.

Instead, he went to work. First, Gillum voiced his concerns about voter suppression and the political system he worked in on a local and national scale. He gave commentary on politicians who were promising and actually about that change, like Stacey Abrams, and the politicians who were just about the power, like his former opponent.

Now, Gillum is narrowing his focus specifically on voters. He has launched a voter registration campaign with the goal of getting over a million voters registered in the state of Florida. Andrew Gillum recently talked to Blavity about how he’s mobilizing voters to the polls ahead of the 2020 elections.

Gillum decided on voter registration as a plan of action after seeing the barriers that prevented potential voters from being able to participate in the electoral process. “We still have a long way to go for full participation in the process. Young people are still voting at half the turnout of their older peers,” Gillum told Blavity. “If young people by themselves, 18 to 25-year-olds, decided to really vote their strength, there isn’t an election in this state that we couldn’t decide.”

He is fully aware that one of the reasons that young people, especially people with marginalized identities, may not want to vote is because the people that they vote for do not come through on their promises to their constituents. But he doesn’t want potential voters to get discouraged.

“It’s a catch 22. While you don’t feel like you’re seeing the change that you want to see happen in your community and so you don’t participate in the process, but people who do get to participate and choose who leads then are the ones who, quite frankly, get their needs addressed,” Gillum explained. “That’s why the kind of policy that we see flowing from our elected officials in my state is so conservative … because those communities who sit at the crosshairs of the impact are not the ones who are necessarily deciding who goes into the office.” 

He spoke about the frustration he has with Republicans being in power and how their positions make it easier for voter suppression to keep voters away from the polls. He believes that once voters elect politicians who will fight for them, they will dismantle suppressive laws that block them from voting.

“We’ve learned our lesson [in the 2018 election]," he said. "You cannot engage people in the last couple of weeks of an election and think that that’s going to be timely enough to produce the kind of outcomes that we want to achieve. That’s not how we do it with older folks. We talk to them year in and year out.”

In his voter registration campaign, Gillum is making sure there are people on the ground who are actually engaging with constituents and discussing their concerns prior to the elections. 

Although Gillum knows that Trump is confident in gaining Florida voters in the 2020 presidential election, he doesn’t believe Trump stands a chance once the voters get organized. Yet, Gillum wouldn’t name any 2020 presidential candidates who have done the best job in organizing voters in the primaries so far. He instead has taken on that job for himself and for the Democratic party.

“This isn’t about a single election cycle. This is about the long term," he said. "I’m about what is going to be required to move the state of Florida intentionally and in a more progressive direction, and we can get there. We cannot even begin to dream that until we can get more people on the voter rolls and more people participating in our elections.”