By Vareva Harris, Co-Editor
The quality of democracy lies in the quality of civic engagement of individuals and communities. Thousands of Spartanburg County citizens are taking co-creating the kind of democracy they want very seriously.
The excitement around voter registration efforts and voting in our community is increasing, one new registered voter at a time. Traditional and virtual voter registration drives are happening.
Pastor and local business owner, Rev. Derrick Scurry gives everyone who walks into his barbershop, Scurry’s on Main, in Woodruff the opportunity to register to vote. “Anyone who wants to get registered to vote can come into the barbershop and complete the voter registration form. Several young men have registered to vote in the barbershop,” said Scurry.
Not everyone is excited about voting. Scurry has had conversations with some young men who are still questioning whether their votes matter. Scurry said, “I talk with them and encourage them to register to vote anyway.”
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry Laye, director of voter registration and elections in Spartanburg County said he has seen an “up-tick in the number of people coming into the office to pick-up voter registration forms so they can help people register to vote the traditional way.”
Laye also shared the number of requests for mail-in ballots are “way up” in Spartanburg County and all over the state. “Over 11,000 registered voters requested mail-in ballot applications and 7,000 of those applications have been signed and returned to the Spartanburg County Voter Registration and Election Office.” Registered voters wanting to vote using a mail-in ballot still have time to request their ballots on scvotes.gov.
Megan Stribble, a Woodruff High School (WHS) graduate and junior at Converse College is helping encourage young people to register to vote online. “It’s my way of helping to make the world a better place,” said Stribble.
When the voter registration form is completed and submitted online at scvotes.gov, voter registration cards are mailed out in two to three business days according to election officials.
A complex backdrop of issues confront our current democracy. Some of the issues are: increased racial tension caused by public shootings and killings of unarmed black men and women filmed and posted on social media by witnesses; support for police officers and first responders; highlighted disparities due to COVID-19; the need for more support for front-line health care workers; school and economy re-openings; boycotts of professional sporting events; cancelled athletic competitions, excitement around the presidential election between President Donald J. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, the historic nomination of U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, as the first black female vice presidential nominee for a major political party, and the South Carolina U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham and challenger Jaime Harrison, to name a few.
Civic engagement in Woodruff and in the Upstate has included residents organizing with like-minded people, canvasing for candidates, protests, boat-parades, and marches. However, Spartanburg County voters are gearing up to make their voices heard in shaping the quality of democracy they want on Nov. 3.