Free Goodies in Exchange for Voting Stickers

Nov 4, 2008 7:37pm

ABC News On Campus reporter Dominick Tao blogs: Behind the bar of The Swamp Restaurant, one of the best-known watering holes in Gainesville, Fla., an array of liquor bottles makes a proud display of civic pride. A corked container of Patron Silver tequila wears an "I Voted" sticker just below its decorative ribbon. A Parrot Bay rum bottle sports an "I Voted" sticker sponsored by the Barack Obama campaign, with "Change" written across it. Even the top-shelf Gray Goose wore a red, white and blue sticker. Since the restaurant opened at 11 a.m., the customers have been coming in, trading their "I Voted" stickers for a free beer or martini. The stickers go from their shirts to the liquor shelf. The Swamp, like several other businesses in this college town, has been giving away free goodies in exchange for customers’ proof of voting. Why? "There was a lot more attention to the election this year, and this is for a good cause," said Jeff Bartholomew, The Swamp’s general manager. Bartholomew said he expects to give away a few hundred free drinks. A few miles across town at the Starbucks on Northwest 13th Street, baristas have been serving up free 12-ounce coffees to customers with a voter registration card or proof-of-voting sticker. The chalkboard in the coffee house announced the promotion as the "Swing State Special." And for those with more of a sweet tooth, both Krispy Kreme Donuts and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream have been giving out free treats to celebrate Election Day. Students are taking up these civic duty-for-freebies offers with zeal. University of Florida freshmen and fist-time voters Tahnee Guite, Melissa Font and Amylee Slicko made a beeline for the Krispy Kreme near campus after they finished with classes and cast their ballots. "We voted, waited for our friend, then came to get our donut," Slicko said. "We’re going to Starbucks next."

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