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Formerly incarcerated man encourages others to get out and vote for those who can't

Allen Shropshire, who is a volunteer with the Memphis Interfaith Coalition of Action & Hope, educates people on their voting rights and the justice system.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Local elections matter. That is why organizations in Memphis are going door to door to make sure people exercise their right to vote. 

This year in Shelby County, there are a number of positions on the ballot, like the District Attorney General, County Mayor, and commissioners. 

In 2020, more than 380,000 Shelby County residents voted in the presidential election, but, less than half that number voted in 2018 for the county primaries.  

Memphis Interfaith Coalition of Action & Hope (MICAH) advocates are hoping to see an increase with the efforts they are making.

"We're out here getting into good trouble and doing something that's going to better the community," MICAH Volunteer Allen Shropshire said. "We're out here being an advocate and a voice for the community and for them to feel like they have a voice at times." 

Allen is a passionate voting advocate, especially after that right was almost taken from him. He was incarcerated for charges that he says were dropped. 

"The attorney at the time was trying to get my to cop a plea deal that I did not do, and I'm not about to take a charge on something that I did not do. I'm a person that if I done it, I done it…I had done the research that you could fire your attorney. I let go of my attorney, I represented myself, I got myself less time," Allen explained.

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After serving two months, Allen is a free man with zero felony charges and though this is his story, it is not the same for many who he knows.

"I have my rights, but I know of 40 to 50 more people who cannot vote, who cannot get their rights back," Allen said. "My objective and my obligation in my mind is for 50 people, for every person that cannot vote, I'm planning to get four to five more people to vote for them that can vote." 

Saturday, MICAH partnered with the County Voter Alliance to host a Voting Blitz event that encouraged the community to exercise their right to vote. 

MICAH is a group of community and faith-based organizations that rally's for justice, which focuses on economic, education, and race & class equity.

"What we really want to do is get the information out to people. What early polls are available to them. Whose on the balled? Do they have a contingency plan of how they're going to get out and vote? We just want Memphians to get out and vote in elections that affect Memphians," Organizer Samantha Bradshaw said.

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Organizers passed these cards out to residents, which shows the important dates and deadlines with other information about the justice system. 

The last day to vote early is April 28th, and Election day is May 3.