Florida Mulls Voter Registration at Gun and Bait Shops
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
The National Rifle Association, or NRA, thinks if you're getting a hunting or fishing license in Florida, that would also be a great time to register to vote. A bill before the Florida legislature would do just that. It would require gun and bait shops that sell hunting and fishing licenses also to offer voter registration cards. Well some shop owners aren't too pleased with the idea, Gator MacRae is one of them. He owns MacRae's Bait and Tackle on the Homosassa River along the Gulf Coast. Mr. MacRae, welcome to the program.
GATOR MACRAE: Thank you.
BLOCK: What's your understanding of how this all would work?
MACRAE: It sounds like I would be required to do another duty and not get paid for it.
BLOCK: And what would that duty be exactly?
MACRAE: I guess I would be registering voters at my location where I sell fishing licenses and mainly that's what I do.
BLOCK: And why is that a concern for you?
MACRAE: Well, it's a process that takes time and effort. And I pay my employees by the hour, and if you ask them not very much by the hour, and we don't make, to speak of, very much money at all on the fishing licenses to begin with. And I'm not sure how long a process that it would take to register someone for voting, but I sold 1600, just over 1600 fishing licenses last year out of my shop. And that cost me about $27,000 that I paid the state of Florida. Out of all that money I've put just over $800, not in my pocket, but that's what I made. I mean I still have expenses on top of that.
BLOCK: So let me just get the math straight here. The licensing fees that you took in were $27,000 and of that you kept 800?
BLOCK: How much of your time is spent up with this licensing business?
MACRAE: It takes anywhere from a minute and a half to five minutes per license. But now it's just adding an extra step. And I'm all for everybody voting, that's not what I'm talking about. I don't think it should be as easy as going to your local bait and tackle shop and registering to vote. I mean I'm for everybody to vote, but let's let the people that my tax dollars, that I'm paying the government people already to do this job, let's make them do it.
BLOCK: Well why do you figure that the NRA would be targeting, so to speak, gun and bait and tackle shops?
MACRAE: You know I can't answer that question, I'm sorry. I don't know.
BLOCK: I guess there's still a chance...
MACRAE: I'm surprised. I guess that's where they're, you know, where they're, they think that the majority of their people would be. The people that would more support the NRA are at these locations.
BLOCK: And do you think they're right about that?
MACRAE: I would say probably, yeah. I mean I can see what they're looking at. They're looking at, you know, a certain clientele and this is where this certain clientele is.
BLOCK: Do you have many people coming through who want to talk politics?
MACRAE: No. And yes. I mean, it's a bait and tackle shop on the river that offers fishing services, unfortunately politics always come up. But it's not a big political motivated place.
BLOCK: You say unfortunately it comes up.
MACRAE: Well, yes and no. You know, politics can be good, can be bad, depends on who you talk to, you know. And it's open to the general public so one person's thoughts and matters compared to another one, we don't like to get involved in that. Or I personally don't, I'm sorry.
BLOCK: Do you figure that if this bill passes you would just stop selling licenses?
MACRAE: No, I wouldn't stop selling licenses. Absolutely not. I mean it's like selling gasoline, too. I mean we don't make any money on selling gasoline, but, you know, it's nice to have and it's nice to offer. It gets people in the door and they're able, it's like a one stop shop.
BLOCK: Mr. MacRae thanks very much.
MACRAE: Melissa, have a great day.
BLOCK: Gator MacRae on MacRae's Bait and Tackle in Homosassa, Florida.
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