'Shape Up the Vote' event offers voter registration and free haircuts in Milwaukee

NOW: ’Shape Up the Vote’ event offers voter registration and free haircuts in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The owner of a popular Milwaukee barbershop opened his doors Monday, Sept. 28,  to help people make sure they’re ready to vote. 

"Shape Up the Vote" is part of a national campaign, and in this city, the focus is empowering Black men to use their voice.

For some, the barbershop is the heart of the neighborhood.

“They deal with a lot of people, different races, different nationalities come through barbershops, it’s in the community," Milwaukee resident Antonio Hartfield said.

So, inside Gee’s Clippers there’s a push to make sure the Black community, especially its men, are registered to vote.

“So, if we get people in early to actually check to see if they’re registered or they’ve found out ‘oh I don’t have the right information’. Great, you still have time and this gives you an opportunity to get whatever you need," Markasa Tucker, director of the African American Round Table, said.

The event was hosted by a non-partisan coalition, in partnership with When We All Vote, and gave the incentive of a free haircut for the first 50 people registered.

Milwaukee resident Ariana Graff checked her status, and brought her three-year-old son.

“They actually set me up on the phone to do some questions and stuff. I know that they needed to see my state ID and things like that," Graff said.

In 2016, Black voter turnout fell for the first time in 20 years for a presidential election.

It dropped to 59.6 percent, according to a Pew Research Center report.

“We have a responsibility to make sure we do our part and since we saw the drop in votes, particularly African American men this last election cycle, we had to get involved," Gee's Clippers owner, Gaulien "Gee" Smith said.

“A lot of people will tell you that it’s not important or you only have two choices, your vote doesn’t count, but you have to do it. You have to get out here and do it on your own," registered voter Patrick Whorton, said.

Event sponsors include the African American Round Table, Bronner Bros., MaCher, NCompass and Vote WI.

To find out if you are registered to vote, click here.

To learn more about "Shape Up the Vote", click here.

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