Voter turnout in Spartanburg County, upstate organization pushing for change

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – According to the SC Votes website, there are 192,904 registered voters in Spartanburg County so far. Of those, 143,005 are listed as white. 49,899 are recorded as nonwhite. But now, there’s a push to up not only that data but also the number of people actually going to the polls.

A first vote for Timie Fowler.

“I’m 58 years old, I never voted until I voted last year,” said Spartanburg Resident, Timie Fowler

But it could very well be his last. He told us he’s not planning on going to the polls November 3.

“There ain’t no change. I feel they put who they want in these positions,” Fowler said.

His voting location is just across the street from his home, Mount Moriah Baptist Church.

“Public policy in their eyes has not impacted their lives,” said Founder of Upstate Action Alliance, Charles Mann.

A place that Charles Mann told us is helping with his mission.

“We’re working with three of the ministerial alliances in Spartanburg that deal with black churches, that’s over 45 black churches,” Mann told us.

He and his group, Upstate Action Alliance are focused on voter education and most importantly, voter turnout. The initiative all started when Mann noticed a trend in recent data showing a decline in the number of nonwhite voters in Spartanburg County.

“2008, 75%, 2016, 60% and the dismal number of 47% in 2018,” Mann said.

“When you have those kind of numbers, it’s impossible to have an impact on public policy,” Mann told us.

Between knocking on doors, assisting with voter registration and planning transportation for not only the polls but also absentee voting, he said they’re hoping to make an impact in a handful of precincts.

“We want to increase voting by 10%, something that is measurable, something that is doable,” Mann said.

He’s optimistic, partially because one road block Mann said they’ve faced before is no more.

“I have assigned polling locations to well over 830 folks where as theoretically, we’ve only had around 400-450,” said Spartanburg County Director of Registration and Elections, Henry Laye.

As election day inches closer, Mann told 7 News they will be busy on their push to increase voter turnout.

One Spartanburg man told us he doesn’t need any pushing, he’s already eager to get to the polls.

“Yeah, I’ll be there to vote. I have my registration at home,” said Spartanburg Resident, Curtis Thompson.

Something else worth mentioning, Mann told us this initiative isn’t ending after November 3. He said they plan to keep up the momentum for years to come.

Mann told us they will be holding training sessions Saturday morning at Mount Moriah Baptist Church in Spartanburg. That’s not only for people already involved in this effort but also for those who want to join and help. That’s scheduled from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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