Mid-South organizations continuing to encourage people to hit the polls

Local organizations helping voters cast their ballots

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - With election day less than two weeks away, local voting organizations continue to work hard to encourage people to get out and vote.

But the pandemic has changed how they’re able to spread the word.

Voters are breaking all sorts of records this year -- at the polls, and by mail.

Absentee voting for the November election may not even have been possible if not for organizations like #UpTheVote901, who fought to make it happen.

“We filed a lawsuit against the Secretary of State back in the spring," said #UpTheVote901 Founder Earle Fisher.

A lawsuit that pushed state leaders to allow everyone to vote absentee because of health concerns regarding COVID-19. Now only people who are medically vulnerable to the virus, and their caretakers can vote by mail for the presidential election.

Lawsuit seeks absentee ballots for all Tennesseans

“We see that as a glass half full and not half empty," said Fisher. "At the end of the day, we wanted people in Black and brown communities that are disenfranchised and usually victims of ow turnout to have every option possible available at their disposal even in the midst of this pandemic.”

The pandemic has been a big obstacle for local voting organizations to navigate.

The organization, Memphis For All, has had to strategize virtually.

“We convened all of our volunteers over zoom,” said Memphis For All Organizer Rebekah Gorbea.

They’ve have had to lean into social media to encourage young and first-time voters, a demographic that’s less likely to vote.

“We’ve had record breaking turnout in Shelby County so far but if you look at who’s going to vote, that 18-30 crowd is still the lowest,” said Gorbea.

Both organizations stress the importance of educating the public about what’s on the ballot and how it will affect individuals.

“We’ve had a couple of virtual symposiums which are like town halls," said Fisher. "So, we’ve focus on primarily over the last few months on crime and public safety and labor and wages.”

They want everyone to know that their vote matters.

“I’ve known people who’ve won state senate races or state representative races by less than a hundred votes,” said Fisher. “We know people who’ve won mayoral races by less than a hundred votes. So, every time we get a chance to engage and inform and empower citizens to participate in the electoral process, we do that.”

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