PRINCE GEORGE COUNTY, Md. – When it comes to getting young people to vote, Charles G. Davis believes it's all about the "bling bling." So on Nov. 2, the Prince George's County businessman will offer free stretch-limousine rides to the polls.
"The brighter the bling, the more the attraction. The more the attraction, the greater the interest. I believe if we get them interested, we can get them to the polls," said Davis, 51.
The goal of the nonpartisan effort, Davis said as he kicked off the campaign this week, is to convince 18- to 30-year-olds, as well as residents of any age who live in low-income neighborhoods, that they need to make their voices heard.
His nonprofit Let Us Keep Engaged Foundation, an arm of his Greenbelt consulting business, Technology, Automation & Management Inc., will cover the approximately $20,000 cost of renting 18 vehicles for the day. The limos include Lincoln stretch limousines, stretch Cadillac Escalades and Humvees.
Two limos will be stationed at locations in each of the county's nine council districts from 7 to 11 a.m. and from 4 to 8 p.m. They will pick up and drop off voters, focusing on areas that have historically had low turnout, particularly communities inside the Capital Beltway, organizers said.
Miguel L. McCloud, an Upper Marlboro resident whose limousine company usually handles weddings and funerals, will provide most of the vehicles. He called on his competitors to round out the fleet.
Other community organizations, including the J. Franklyn Bourne Bar Association for minority lawyers in Prince George's and Montgomery, have agreed to co-sponsor the event, and vendors have been asked to donate food.
The liquor bars in the stretch limos will remain empty, however. After all, this is Election Day. However, bottled water will be provided.
Other community organizations have come up with less elaborate ways to stimulate turnout. The Prince George's chapter of the NAACP, for example, has persuaded five churches to each donate a van and a driver. Between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., voters will be picked up, taken to the polls and returned to their homes, said June White Dillard, president of the Prince George's NAACP.