‘Styling for Democracy’: Barbershops offer voter registration materials

LIMA — The man in charge of Ohio’s elections spent part of Monday embracing a national pastime: discussing politics in a barbershop.

Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, a Republican who is up for reelection in November. is visiting barbershops statewide to encourage community members to vote. LaRose stopped by Bug’s Barbershop on Lima’s North Main Street on Monday afternoon.

LaRose created the idea with Eric Garrett, his friend and owner of Beyond Expectations Barber College in Youngstown, in 2020. The effort is known as “Styling for Democracy.”

“It is a time-honored tradition to talk politics at a barbershop,” LaRose said. “We had the idea in 2020 to get people interested in registering to vote right where they are talking about politics. The idea is if you are not registered, talk is all you can do.”

Al Edmundson, owner of A Cut Above the Rest barbershop in Columbus, also aided in the statewide effort to increase voter registration. Edmundson has helped more than 2,000 adults become registered in his barbershop.

Participants are given posters and voter registration forms to encourage community members.

”The main goal is getting people out to vote so we can be our own change,” said James Hemphill, owner of Bug’s Barbershop. “We can’t expect change to happen if we are not putting forth our effort to doing what we need to do. It starts with getting out to vote and putting the right people in the right positions that will work for us.”

LaRose is running against Elida native Chelsea Clark, a Democrat, in the November election.

Across the Ohio, registered voters will decide on a U.S. senator, governor and lieutenant governor, two Ohio Supreme Court justices, the Ohio Supreme Court chief justice, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor.

There are also races for the U.S. House of Representatives, state representative in the 84th District and Third District Court of Appeals candidates. The Ohio House of Representative District 78 and Ohio Third District Court of Appeals candidates will appear on the ballot running unopposed.

The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 11.