By Clint Confehr
NASHVILLE, TN – Among 70 groups joining a bipartisan voter registration drive Monday were Equity Alliance leaders who say they’re taking Project Register to churches.
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and State Sen. Steve Dickerson launched Project Register at Metro’s main library to raise awareness about online voter registration in Tennessee because the state is 40th in voter registration and 50th in voter turnout.
“There was a natural gasp in the room” when employees were told those numbers, Bank of America Nashville Market President Tyson Moore said as he and more than a dozen other community leaders announced they’ll take voter registration information to co-workers.
Cooper and Dickerson say registering on-line to vote is easy and a clear path to improve Tennessee residents’ poor showing at election polls and on voter registration rolls. Go to https://ovr.govote.tn.gov/Registration/#BM.
Among business and community leaders at Project Register’s launch Dec. 11, was Equity Alliance Vice President Tequila Johnson who wants to issue a voter guide to explain roles and responsibilities of elected offices who can make a difference on issues. Formed in January 2017, the alliance exists to increase community engagement, including voting, through partnerships with like-minded organizations.
“We have events the last Tuesday of every month,” Johnson said. “We meet at First Baptist Church Capitol Hill where we usually have a speaker … centered around whatever issue is going on that’s affecting the community.
“We bring in organizations that we partner with, just as a coalition building tool enabling their members,” she said. “For example, Bert Mathews’ group came and talked about the Fort Negley development.
“I was excited that he and his organization were even interested in coming and talking to people when there was so much negativity surrounding an issue,” she said. “So, I think the fact that we are educating people on things and engaging people and giving them an opportunity to ask questions, is the start.”
Another step Johnson and Equity Alliance President Charlane Oliver plan is reaching out to various churches to tell about Project Register to get people registered to vote. An easy way to do so is to accept Project Register’s recommendation and use the on-line system.
After working together to boost Nashville high school registration rates by 85 percent in 2015, Cooper and Dickerson hope to raise voter registration rates in Middle Tennessee, where eligible voters work, live, learn and play.
Engaging businesses, nonprofits and other organizations, Cooper and Dickerson are encouraging Project Register participants to incorporate online voter registration into their new-employee on-boarding process. Project Register participants also will remind employees twice a year to register to vote online.
More than 70 organizations representing more than 125,000 employees have signed up to participate in Project Register.
See The Tennessee Tribune’s print edition in coming weeks to read more about Project Register and what it means for the community.