RISE-Greene County will host an open voting block party next weekend in Stanardsville.
Resist Injustice Stand and Educate (RISE) is “an action-oriented group on a mission, focused on building connections between marginalized people and our allies, to promote transformative social reform and systemic change that recognizes all humans as equals,” said Madeleine Ledford, one of the organizers.
People can check to see if they’re registered to vote and their polling location, as well as get information on voting rules and regulations and how to do early voting or mail-in ballots and what those deadlines are.
“We’re offering a consolidated place where people can go and check on that information, register to vote if they need to register to vote, request a mail-in ballot if they’d like to do that or find a time that works for them to go and do early voting if they’d like to do that,” Ledford said.
There will also be a drive-through option for those not comfortable getting out of their vehicles.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Ledford said, masks are required and social distancing regulations will be followed. Additionally, there will be hand sanitizer stations and no more than 250 people will be allowed at a time, per Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s emergency order.
The event will run from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Courthouse Square in the Town of Stanardsville. From noon until 2 p.m., musicians have been invited to perform. Sombrero’s food truck will be there, Ledford said. There will be a socially distanced kids’ table, as well, with activities for them to take home.
At 3 p.m. Dr. Cameron Webb, the Democratic nominee for the 5th District Congressional seat, will speak.
“We’re really excited to host him because he reflects the values that RISE upholds and he’ll be speaking for about 30 minutes. He will be staying a little bit after to mingle with community members, socially distanced of course, and answering any specific questions that we may have in the community,” Ledford said.
Pastor Williams with Shiloh Baptist Church in Stanardsville will also speak. Shalita Kenney, a William Monroe High School 2018 graduate, is also scheduled to speak on the importance of the younger generation’s vote, as well. The organizers of RISE will have brief introductions, too.
“The main focus is on voting and highlighting the importance of the vote and everyone getting out there and making sure everyone’s voice is heard,” Ledford said. “We’re realizing there is a lot of injustice in our voting system. There is also a gerrymandering mandate that’s coming up on the ballot and we’ll have information about that, as well. Anybody in the community should feel free and welcome to come and get the necessary information because voting is a democratic right for all citizens.”
Ledford said she, herself, always votes.
“It’s so powerful; it’s the core of our democracy,” she said. “It is the fundamental right that everyone can have their voices heard, and although I call my representatives and I let my voice be heard in multiple ways, voting is the most direct action that we can take to make sure that those that represent us really represent us and hold them accountable. Voting is just the synthesis of all the actions that we want to take and all the words that we want to say and then it all distills down to one powerful moment where we get to decide who represents us. That’s just huge.”
The event will happen rain or shine.
“I think Greene County is an incredibly beautiful and strong and diverse place in Virginia. I think that often when outsiders look at Greene County, they judge and they misrepresent and they misunderstand what our community is made up of,” Ledford said. “We, as a group, want to hear those voices and represent those messages that get lost in translation. So, it’s not only a community group for Greene County, for uplifting those voices that may feel like they’re unheard, uplifting those voices that we haven’t heard from before, but it’s also holding ourselves accountable and letting the outside world know that Greene County is watching, we are listening and that there are those within the county that want to spread messages of love and caring and fostering a sense of togetherness.”
Ledford said in the current climate it’s important to let people know there is a space to have conversations that might be difficult.
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