With all eyes on what’s considered by some to be the most important election in U.S. history, a Third Ward collaborative, Project Voter Turnout 2020 (PVT), seeks to provide traditional transportation to the polls in an untraditional way. Instead of operating on Nov. 3 (election day), PVT will transport souls to the polls on seven days during early voting.
Dr. Grace Butler, a retired UH professor, founded PVT because her research showed that though local voter registration efforts have been positive, voter education and turnout were “woefully unaddressed.” Butler said, when faced with a problematic circumstance (i.e. registered voters not voting), she “will moan and groan for a minute, but then try to do something other than lament.” PVT’s several voter-related initiatives, particularly their early voting transportation initiative, is Butler’s way of moving from merely complaining to taking action.
“In the 2016 Texas Presidential Primary only 15% of Republicans and 8% of Democrats of voting age turned out to vote,” said Butler. “Thus, increase in turnout is vital to our work.”
Juanita Jackson, a member of the Emancipation Economic Development Council’s Faith in Action Workgroup, joined PVT early on. She credits fellow PVT member Rodney Fluker with suggesting their group establish HUBs in different areas of Third Ward where residents lacking transportation could gather and get a needed ride.
“It was like a light bulb went off in my head and I immediately said, ‘I will work in the Third Ward area with the five United Methodist churches and the United Methodist Wesley Foundations at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston,” shared Jackson.
Butler credits Jackson’s tenacity for successfully recruiting the effort’s primary partners: Boynton Chapel UMC, St. John’s UMC, St. Paul’s UMC, Trinity East UMC, Trinity UMC and the TSU and UH Wesley Foundations.
Project Voter Turnout 2020 will provide transportation to early voting sites from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Oct. 19, 21, 23, 24, 27, 29 and 31. The five transportation HUBs (pickup and drop off locations) are Boynton (2812 Milby), St. John’s (2019 Crawford), Trinity East (2418 McGowen), Trinity (2600 Holman) and the TSU Wesley Foundation (3811 Sampson).