“We all have to be better at utilizing our right to vote. And I compare it to health care it that I feel that everyone has a right to have health care regardless of their ability to pay. Voting is the same concept to me. Everyone has a right to vote regardless of their ability to get there,” says Aaron Perry, president and founder of the Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association.
Perry is excited that his Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association Men’s Health & Education Center, located on Madison’s west side adjacent to JP Hair Design, Madison’s largest Black barbershop, is hosting in-person absentee voting for the Aug. 9 primary elections. Madison-area voters have numerous locations to choose from when casting a vote and there has been an emphasis on reaching out to Madison diverse populations including the Rebalanced – Life Wellness Association Men’s Health & Education Center.
“Now that they’ve completely eliminated drop boxes and whatnot, it is important as ever,” Perry tells Madison365. “I think that there’s an agenda for that, but we can’t get caught up on that part of the system. We just got to control what we can control and getting out and coming over and voting in places that you’re familiar with, that you’re comfortable with, I think that that’s a win-win for everyone.”
The groundbreaking Men’s Health & Education Center is an innovative health model for reducing health disparities that works with businesses, corporations, community-based organizations, health educators and the faith community to create an awareness of the major health concerns affecting African Americans and to actively promote a healthier lifestyle. Perry estimates that 500-1,000 people come through both the center and the adjacent JP’s Hair Design in a week.
“It definitely is the right decision to allow our facilities to open up and become a part of the election, so I’m really excited about it,” Perry says. “And we get to have different conversations about it. It opens the doors of us, even when our Black Men Run group is walking and running, being able to share this. Now we have 30-40 guys leaving our walk/runs and telling other people in their groups that we are having about this in-person voting site. So it’s this ripple effect that I’m really excited about.”
In order to vote at Rebalanced-Life Wellness Association, or any other early voting location throughout the city, for that matter, you will need to present ID to receive an absentee ballot. If you are not already registered to vote at your current address, you may register to vote, with proof of residence, at any absentee voting location through Friday, August 5.
“The most important thing for me as a business owner and as the president of Rebalanced Life Wellness Association is that I have an even more vested interest to make sure we get this right because we have seen so many articles and so many attacks on the places where people come to vote,” Perry says. “And so we’ve gone through and have eliminated any concerns that anyone can raise about fake voting and all that. So I think we have a very tight, very well-run space and I think it’s going to be very transparent. So that’s the other part of being the person who allows you to open the doors and come in. We know we have to be spot on to avoid any concerns down the road.”
Other in-person voting locations that reflect the diversity of Madison include Fountain of Life Church, Christ the Solid Rock Baptist Church, Ho-Chunk Nation Community Center, Allied Boys & Girls Club, the Catholic Multicultural Center, and The Hmong Institute.
For a full list of absentee voting locations and hours, click here.
Perry says that he had an interesting conversation with Gov. Tony Evers recently when stopped by the center to do a check presentation and some other things.
“Governor Evers mentioned that it really is important for different organizations to really consider being in-person voting sites. I actually had been thinking about this long before that conversation because one of the things that I know that we have to be better at is bringing resources to people and places where we know they go.”
Historically, many of the voting polls have been at schools, Perry adds, and he is happy to see that expanded to other places that are familiar and friendly to Black voters.
“For one, not a lot of people can get away during those hours, but, also, the system doesn’t recognize that sometimes a lot of people have trauma going to some of the schools. And so that’s not a place where they’re going to go [to vote],” Perry says. “And so by having these community organizations open the doors and allow their spaces to be used as polling places, it just reaches a whole other demographic of voters.”
The Rebalanced – Life Wellness Association Men’s Health & Education Center is located at 588 Grand Canyon Drive on Madison’s west side next to JP Hair Design Barbershop. Absentee voting hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.