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iVoteValues rig promotes voter registration, involvement

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Taking a page from major corporations’ tractor-trailers that carry products and advertise their merchandise on America’s highways, the iVoteValues.com initiative has its own rolling billboard.

The iVoteValues.com Mobile Voter Registration Rig and Information Center began its journey across the United States at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Indianapolis in mid-June. The 18-wheeler is painted in a striking red, white and blue motif. Inside the trailer are resources to aid voters in the importance of voting on Election Day and the necessity of considering biblical truths when entering the voting booth.

From a Wal-Mart parking lot in LaGrange, Ga., to the streets of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, the iVoteValues.com rig is busy spreading the message that citizens should register to vote so that their faith and values and their Election Day decisions are intertwined.

Sid and Jill Yochim, who own the tractor-trailer, are onboard the rig with their two children, working with local contacts to introduce the iVoteValues.com values-based voting emphasis to visitors to the truck. The Yochims are members the Nashville-area First Baptist Church in Lebanon.

The unit sat unused for more a decade after Sid Yochim stepped away from the music industry. The rig had carried merchandise and equipment for the Charlie Daniels Band’s tours.

The Peterbilt is back on the road again with a total makeover, courtesy of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The 77-foot tractor-trailer is designed to give visitors an interactive experience as they walk through it. Seven computer stations allow guests to begin the voter registration process and to be introduced to values-based voting.

Leaving Indianapolis, the truck headed south to stops in Georgia in late June, spending the Fourth of July holiday at the Atlanta-area Hebron Baptist Church in Dacula and First Baptist Church in Snellville. The rig then traveled north to Tennessee, with a visit to the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova where pastor Adrian Rogers hosted thousands as part of a national simulcast in behalf of the Federal Marriage Amendment (www.wevotevalues.com).

The iVoteValues.com truck swung south into Louisiana, through Pineville and Lake Charles, before heading west to Texas. During its stop at Mims Baptist Church in Conroe, the truck was visited by an NBC news crew in town to interview ERLC President Richard Land. The media attention wasn’t unusual. At nearly every stop, local broadcast and print media outlets highlight the truck’s visit and mission, the Yochims told Baptist Press.

The truck spent most of the last week of July in Indiana with visits to shopping center parking lots and churches in Evansville, Greenwood, Fort Wayne and Granger. The rig closed out the month at ZoneFest 2004 in Cleveland, Ohio, joining in a community festival and block party that also featured free health screenings, a food pantry and clothing closet. The Greater Cleveland Baptist Association led the outreach in conjunction with the North American Mission Board. The truck stopped off in Columbus, Ohio, at Jersey Baptist Church, before heading to scheduled stops in West Virginia and Virginia.

Most people who visit the truck realize the “time is now,” Jill Yochim said, recalling an 80-year-old man in Louisiana who came through the truck in tears. He said he was “losing hope” and was relieved to discover that “somebody was doing something,” she said.

“People really do care,” Yochim said. “I think people are waking up because of this effort.

“It is mostly young adults who are not registered to vote,” she said. But the Yochims have met a fair number of older people who are embarrassed to admit that they aren’t registered either but are receptive to registering and paying closer attention to what a candidate stands for.

Fellow truckers often quiz Sid, asking, “What are you hauling in that truck?” Jill said a lady in a truck stop along Interstate 75 in Georgia asked for voter registration information after seeing the well-decorated rig.

“In some people, it’s like the proverbial light bulb goes on,” Jill said. “They just didn’t realize Christians should be involved in the public policy process.”

The iVoteValues.com Mobile Voter Registration Rig and Information Center has plans to visit Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, North and South Carolina, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, Colorado, Oregon, California and New Mexico before the election.

For more information on the iVoteValues.com truck tour, visit www.ivotevalues.com or call 1-800-475-9127.

    About the Author

  • Dwayne Hastings