Barbershops unite to empower voters

The barbershop is a place to gossip and talk about sports and politics — the ideal atmosphere to empower people to register to vote.
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Barbershops aren’t just a place to get a shave and a haircut. They are the place people go to gossip, talk politics or sports, and connect with a community, all while getting a trim. A new nonpartisan effort called Shape Up The Vote is enlisting barbershops to empower Americans to use their voice.

“We started the project based on our belief that barbers are local leaders. Especially in this time of social isolation, barbers hold a unique space for dialogue and conversation. Our team has a deep appreciation for local businesses and community leaders, and set out to empower barbers to use their influence in the 2020 election,” says Andrew Glass, who launched Shape Up The Vote over this Summer.

Shape Up The Vote is providing barbershops with all the material they need — for free. That includes voter registration forms, election materials, and informative posters and mirror clings, intending to get customers to register and cast their ballot on November 3. Voter outreach programs like Shape Up The Vote hope to increase voter turnout for the 2020 election.

The 2020 campaign encourages barbers to talk with their clients about the importance of voting and how to participate in the upcoming election. So far, about 1,600 barbershops are taking part in the effort. Several barbers have furthered the effort by recruiting poll workers or sharing information on early voting.

“We’ve been inspired to see the reception from barbers who are excited to participate in the program. Particularly in Philadelphia where we have a presence on the ground, many of our barbers have taken on additional work of recruiting poll-workers. As our country heads into the critical election, we’re encouraged to see local leaders rally their communities to make their voices heard,” says Glass.

Jacque “Sci-Fi” Scott, owner of Another Planet Barber Shop, told KYW News Radio, “They are already going to see the yellow signs, ‘Register to vote,’ and all that good stuff, and then, when they get in the chair…alright, are you registered to vote? Are you ready?”

“It doesn’t even matter who you are voting for, just that you have that motive to get down there and make your voice heard.”

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Ed Note: This article was updated on 10/29/2020.

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