JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An anti-crime group is now helping people register to vote.
For the first time, MAD DADS (Men Against Destruction-Defending Against Drugs and Social-Disorder) is hosting a series of drives to help people get ready to cast their ballots in November.
On Sunday, MAD DADS set up from noon to 4 p.m. at the Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro off Lenox Avenue. It’s located in a lower-income section on the Westside — an area in Jacksonville with low turnout rates and high voter apathy.
It was the second weekend that MAD DADS has been doing this, and the group plans to host voter registration events every weekend until Oct. 5, which is Florida’s deadline for the 2020 election.
MAD DADS is encouraging people to use their voting power to boost turnout in the November election.
“The community needs a voice. We want to encourage them to participate in voting, City Council meetings. If the community isn’t using their voice, then we have other problems, i.e. the crime that we have in Jacksonville. We want to encourage people to participate in government,” said Gary Bright with MAD DADS.
MAD DADS typically focuses on reducing crime in neighborhoods and helping victims cope with tragedies, but Bright said the group decided to expand its scope ahead of November.
“MAD DADS is a community-oriented group. We like to do community service. As you know, we often go out when there’s a crime in the neighborhood and we solicit help from the neighborhood,” Bright said. “But we also want to encourage people to participate in their government, so we’re doing voter registration.”
On Sunday, MAD DADS helped 20 people register to vote in four hours.
While the drives are meant to serve as unbiased, third-party help, Bright uses the opportunity to address some hot-button topics like the upcoming City Council budget. On Saturday, at a drive-in protest in front of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, local racial justice groups called for a “people’s budget.” Bright explained that means a massive reallocation and reinvestment of funds from the present budget proposed for JSO. He said the phrase “defund the police” is misunderstood.
“You hear that term, and people think, ’Oh, they want to take money and shut down the police.’ That is just far from the truth. When you hear that term, you should know that it means redirecting resources. Police should use some of those resources to fight mental illness, other issues that involve crime,” Bright said.
You don’t have to bring a photo ID to register — only to the polls on Election Day.