NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Fearing crowds, long lines, COVID-19 or even fraud, voters are turning out in droves to cast their ballots now instead of waiting for Election Day Nov. 3.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is urging citizens to exercise that right early. And the historic civil rights group’s members and supporters are helping voters who need transportation to polling places.
The effort is called “Souls to the Polls.” It’s made possible, in large part, by volunteers from area churches who are providing the rides.
“I’m going to be honest. I was fearful to get in the car and drive people around,” said Joe Dillard, president of the Norfolk branch of the NAACP. “However, with our executive committee with the NAACP, under Ms. Jackie Scott, took the lead and started contacting different churches and organizations.”
The phones are ringing.
“We’re getting the question, which is great. ‘Are you offering rides to the polls now?’ Yes, we are,” said Scott, whose voice may be the one you hear, should you call.
Longtime NAACP member Julius McCullough believes there is a sense of urgency among Black voters about this election.
“We have so many people that are — because of mismanagement — have been so adversely affected,
health-wise, economic-wise. And the only way that we can make a difference is to get the people to the polls.”
Judy Brown is also driving voters. She’s connected with the National Association of University Women.
“I have been taking people from some of the assisted living, senior citizen homes as well as the churches in the neighborhood,” she said.
Brown is also getting support from fellow members at her church, Olive Grove Baptist, in Norfolk.
The Rev. Byron Harris, with Norfolk’s New Calvary Baptist, says his church members understand the importance of social justice and liberation ministry.
“We need to make sure that all of our voices are heard. And that we assist in that process even in the midst of a pandemic. We can still follow the COVID-19 phase 3 re-entry process set forth by our governor and still make sure that we get people there in a safe manner.”
Dillard believes the coronavirus pandemic may actually motivate more people to participate in “Souls To The Polls.”
“Look at what we’re going through now… We’re not sitting in a studio with [WAVY’s Don Roberts], we’re actually having this interview via Zoom. We’re in the midst of a pandemic that’s unheard of… There are things that’s going on and it doesn’t matter which side of the party, or where you are politically, I think we all can agree that your vote is your voice.”
So, if you want your voice heard this election day, and you need a ride to your polling place, contact the volunteers with Souls to the Polls to schedule a pick-up time:
- NAACP, Jackie Scott: 757-805-8978
- New Calvary Baptist Church., Rev. Byron Harris: 757-627-1269
- Shiloh Baptist Church, George Betts: 757-650-5214