The Surf and Turf food truck was the first to arrive at Williams Park. It was soon followed by a trickle — then a flood — of mostly millennials from St. Petersburg tech startups.
They ate. They chatted and got to know each other. Then they walked down the block to the supervisor of elections’ early voting site to cast their ballots.
The gathering was the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce’s “Startup & Vote” event. St. Pete is one of four cities across the U.S. to try the idea, which is to make voting a social affair.
The idea appealed to several local startups like Check I’m Here, which provides student engagement software to colleges. Founded in May 2014, the company now has 15 employees and most of them came to lunch with CEO and founder Reuben Pressman.
Pressman said he liked the idea of Startup & Vote because it was an easy way to give employees a chance to vote.
Gary Fustino of Des!gn for Communication, a chamber ambassador, came from Clearwater for the event. Fustino had already voted but thought the concept of getting the tech community together was a worthy idea.
It wasn’t just chamber members. Joseph “JB” Bensmihen, a Republican running for State House District 68, took some time off from campaigning at the polling place to drop in for lunch and to hand out flyers.
Startup & Vote is the concept of Steve Ressler, president and founder of GovLoop, a knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 150,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems, and advancing government careers.
The idea is that Startup & Vote is designed make it easier for companies to let their employees vote while at the same time letting people relax and have fun seeing tech friends.
Durham, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; and Miami are also taking part in the Startup & Vote initiative.
Early voting ends Sunday. The election is Tuesday.