'Voting should be a celebration': Get Out the Vote cookout aims to inspire and educate voters on Milwaukee's north side
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin's primary is just 10 days away, and gaining national attention for contentious races on the ballot.
National and local voting rights organizations gathered on Milwaukee's north side Sunday, July 31, hoping to educate and inspire voters in the community to take part in their civic duty on Aug. 9.
The "Get Out the Vote" cookout was held Sunday in McGovern Park, with free food, giveaways, music, haircuts and fun for kids, as well as informational booths from voting rights groups.
The event was hosted by the Transformative Justice Coalition, Wisconsin Voices, and several others, including EXPO Wisconsin - an organization helping previously incarcerated people learn their voting rights.
The message of the event was that voting should be exciting, easy and fun - it shouldn't feel like a chore.
"Voting should be a celebration," said Barbara Arnwine, President of the Transformative Justice Coalition, "It's important for us to lift up, re-enforce, affirm, give strength to the black voters in Milwaukee."
Attending organizations helped voters find polling places and check their registration status - a reminder that the election is coming up quickly.
"It's wrong that people are telling me that they didn't know there's a primary on Aug. 9th," Arnwine said.
"In Milwaukee and even in Wisconsin, we have a low voter turnout. We have to educate people and get them to understand that their vote does matter," said Tomika Vukovic with Wisconsin Voices.
Event organizers stressed that every vote counts, and that policy and political change can only happen with civic action.
"This community needs to understand and appreciate that their power is in their hands, that they can elect individuals that will be responsible and responsive to their needs," said Daryl Jones with the Transformative Justice Coalition.
With all eyes on Wisconsin this election year, the hope is that everyone that can vote - will vote.
"It was hard fought to get that right. We now have the opportunity to celebrate it, and that's what this is all about," Jones said.
"You pick the candidate you want to choose, but you have to let your voice be heard. Your voice is your vote," Vukovic said.
Wisconsin Voices tell CBS 58 they're planning similar events in other parts of Milwaukee, hoping to bring their reimagination of civic engagement across the city.