Jim Gantt prepares information to empower voters.
“Power of One”
LWVOC volunteer inspires a pyramid of 286 committed voters
When Voter Services challenged committee member Jim Gantt this summer to help get out the 2020 vote, he took it seriously.
Gantt, a retired federal employee and two-year member of the Orange County League of Women Voters, engaged a few friends to try to round up some more committed voters.
The eight of them, all Vietnam veterans, each asked three other friends to vote early or by mail – and to carry the message to three more.
“By September 30, we had a tally of 286 persons who confirmed to vote early or by mail,” Gantt said. “And we’re now on our third tier of outreach, and not done yet.”
“Jim is a model for all of us to see first-hand the power of one,” said Mary Lou Basham, Grassroots & Religious Organizations chair. “He’s one of our many members who are walking the talk with a true grassroots spirit. He puts the grass in grassroots.”
In this era of the pandemic, the project works entirely by text and telephone, Gantt said. When life allows, he likes to canvass in person but, face-to-face or not, he has some advice for others working to empower voters.
“You have to meet people where they are,” he said, “and reach out to people in terms they can understand and relate to. Many people don’t understand about voting, and you have to be patient as they learn.”
It’s also important to know the territory, Gantt said. In a related project, he staked out an Orlando neighborhood he knows well and, beginning with churches and union halls, reached out to encourage people to get out the vote. Know your audience and hone your message, he said. “You have 30 seconds – about the time of a short TV commercial – to make your point.”
Gantt had depended on LWV election materials for many years and joined the League in 2018 when he discovered, to his delight, that men could join, too.
The League gives him a vehicle to carry out his passion for defending democracy and empowering voters. “This is the most consequential election of my lifetime,” he said. “There is so much at stake. Your one vote affects the whole world.”