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Ohio Secretary Of State Partners With Barbershops For New Voting Initiative

A Cut Above The Rest barbershop.
David Holm
A Cut Above The Rest barbershop.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose launched a new initiative Monday with barbershops and beauty salons to encourage voting in minority neighborhoods.

The project, Styling for Democracy, has so far partnered with 25 barber colleges and salon schools across the state, and is hoping for more. The goal is to encourage Black residents to sign up to work the polls this November, and to register their family and friends to vote.

"Most of you know, in the African American community, there are two institutions if you really want to get the word out," says Zack Reed, minority affairs coordinator for the Secretary of State’s office. "With all due respect to the newspapers and the magazines and the TV stations, in the African American community, it’s the churches, and it’s the barbershops and beauty salons."

Part of getting the word out will be to make sure voters know what options are available for a pandemic election.

"We want to make certain that there are no barriers, no restrictions, in terms of people having the right to vote," says state Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus). "It is critical that we're voting, particularly for the marginalized, those that are the most vulnerable among us."

The initiative is part of the Diversity and Empowerment Council, which consists of 35 community and religious leaders statewide.