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Florida Democrats clucking over voter registration drives at local Chick-fil-A restaurants

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Chick-Fil-A is at the center of a voter registration controversy brewing in Florida. (iStock)

Democrats in Pinellas County, Fla., are crying fowl over the supervisor of elections’ decision to hold voter registration drives at nine area Chick-fil-A locations earlier this week on National Voter Registration Day.

Susan McGrath, head of the county Democratic Executive Committee and leader of the Pinellas Stonewall Democrats, a pro-LGBT equality group, says she is all in favor of getting out the vote — just not at Chick-fil-A, the Georgia-based fast-food restaurant chain beloved for its fried chicken sandwiches and its adherence to the Southern Baptist culture of its founder by closing on Sundays. The company's CEO Dan Cathy has made multiple remarks in the past expressing a personal opposition to same-sex marriage.

According to the Tampa Bay Times and Creative Loafing, McGrath wrote a letter to Elections Supervisor Deborah Clark, who chose Chick-fil-A for the voter drives, saying: "As an elected official, you have a duty to be evenhanded and fair. 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."

She compared it to a Democratic supervisor deciding to hold the event at Planned Parenthood and said the get-out-the-vote campaign might just as well be held at the county’s Republican Party headquarters.

McGrath suggested that a recent surge in the number of registered Democrats in the county may have been an impetus to hold the drive in a place Democrats tend to avoid.

"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.

A spokesman for Clark said her office will hold 350 voter drives at hundreds of locations this year. He did not address McGrath’s allegations, other than to say the popular chicken chain gets a lot of customers.

In her letter, McGrath strongly urged Clark's office to reconsider holding future voter registration events at Chick-fil-A locations. 

Across the country, other food establishments are getting into the voter registration game. In Houston, a fleet of taco trucks is now doubling as voter registration centers throughout the city.