The Rev. Sonya Riggins-Furlow, a 63-year-old pastor at Butler Memorial Baptist Church, is worrying a lot about turnout these days. Not in her pews but at the polls.
Voting trends in the Grays Ferry neighborhood, a majority African American area undergoing gentrification, make her fear that Election Day 2008 —when people were lined up around the block to get into polling sites—might have been an aberration and that when it matters most this November, few will show up. She saw what happened in 2016, when the same voting locations were eerily quiet. Her parishioners and neighbors were registered, she says, but didn’t cast their ballot because they lacked enthusiasm for the Democratic candidate.
“My parents, they were coming out of that generation of the ’60s and the civil rights movement and you voted,” she says. “Now people just don’t get it. They look at it like they have other things to do, like grocery shopping or sending the kids off to school. But elections don’t happen every day!”