Love Garden Vote

Record store Love Garden Sounds is displaying a banner on its storefront to encourage participation in the midterm elections.

Local businesses have been stepping up in the weeks leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, voicing support for certain candidates and the right to vote.

Love Garden Sounds at 822 Massachusetts St. has a banner draped above the front door that simply reads “VOTE."

“In my mind, in this election, it’s important to vote so you can maintain your right to vote,” said Kelly Corcoran, owner of Love Garden Sounds.

Ladybird Diner at 721 Massachusetts St. has promoted voting both in the restaurant and on their Facebook page. In the back of the restaurant is a sign counting down the number of days until the election on November 6. A sign in the front window reads “VOTE."

Blu Brooks-O’Leary is a waitress at Ladybird Diner and said all the employees understand the importance of the upcoming midterms.

“We’re all of voting age; we’re all pretty young and will have to go off into the world to deal with what’s coming,” O’Leary said. “It’s important that we all stress voting and take to heart the issues that are going to affect us.”

Other businesses have taken the candidate approach. In October, Wonder Fair, located at 841 Massachusetts St. hosted an event supporting democratic candidates in Kansas, most notably Laura Kelly for governor.

“We’re not afraid to put ourselves on the line and our political views and moral views on the line,” said Wonder Fair owner Paul DeGeorge. “We’re going to be as transparent with that influence as possible.”

Corcoran said he thinks the most pressing issue is voter suppression and people feeling like their voices don’t matter. He said he wanted to stress that voting and participation matters.

“It’s really up to people who show up,” Corcoran said. “They've got to show up, they've got to participate and if they don’t, that’s no good.”

The sign hanging above the door, Corcoran said, is an artistic way to spread the message of exercising a basic right as a citizen. He said that he usually prefers subtle messages, but this year he feels different.

“I didn’t feel like being subtle about this,” Corcoran said. “There was a general agreement amongst everybody who worked [at Love Garden Sounds] that this was something worth doing.”

DeGeorge said voting is “the most important thing” a person can do because voting is a power that we as citizens have.

“I guess I can understand that some people don’t want to bother their lives with having politics be a part of them,” DeGeorge said. “But people who do that are working from a place of tremendous privilege where they don’t have to worry about whatever laws this administration or the next is going to pass.”

Whether it’s signs, events or just word of mouth, it’s clear that the upcoming election is an important one for Lawrence businesses and residents alike. Corcoran said even saying the word “vote” can seem like a political statement, but it is simply an awareness of the choice people have to change the political narrative.

“This shouldn’t be something that we’re worried about,” Corcoran said. “It should be something you should be able to do. Maintaining power should be about ideas not suppression.”