The Carolina Panthers may not be sure whether or not thousands of screaming patrons will be in the stands cheering on their team this upcoming season, but Panthers fans wishing to make the pilgrimage to Bank of America Stadium can still pay enter the hallowed grounds – provided they’re registered Mecklenburg County voters, of course.

Thursday, which marked the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, an act meant to ensure the right to vote for all Americans, prohibiting discrimination in voting based on race or color, the Carolina Panthers and the Carolina Panthers Player Impact Committee are launching “Your Vote Counts,” a nonpartisan initiative that aims to educate, register and mobilize voters in the Carolinas.

The Player Impact Committee is made up of tight end Chris Manhertz, linebacker Andre Smith, defensive end Stephen Weatherly and former Panther Mike Rucker.

This initiative is part of a larger program that encompasses the entire NFL – nearly half of NFL clubs and players have already participated in mandatory voter education sessions.

The program will work alongside local, state and national nonpartisan voter engagement organizations and utilize the Panthers’ reach to encourage voters and help make the voting process safer and easier – this comes after the news last month that Bank of America Stadium has been approved by the North Carolina State Board of Elections to serve as an early voting precinct this election cycle.

“Voting is something that gets taken for granted, but it’s a way for every citizen to have a voice,” Christian McCaffrey said Thursday afternoon. “It’s very important that we all vote, that we all do our part as citizens of where we’re from. Research what’s going on, learn about what’s going on and then use your knowledge and your opinion and vote.”

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“I love this organization because we don’t take that stuff lightly and we don’t brush it to the side.”

The Panthers home, as well as the Spectrum Center, Bojangles Coliseum and other venues around Charlotte, will all be available to use for early voting. From Oct. 15-31, regardless of their designated polling location, and registered voter in Mecklenburg County can come to the stadium and cast their ballot early in this important election.

Voting will be held in the Luxe lobby and an adjacent area on the north side of the stadium.

“For a quarter-century, we’ve been proud to represent you on the field and in the community,” the Panthers wrote in an open letter on their website. “On game days, you’ve welcomed us into your family rooms, your businesses, your barracks, and your dorm rooms. And every day, we’ve been proud to serve alongside you in the places that matter most to our shared community β€” from schools, to food banks, to military bases.”

“We do this because all of us have a responsibility to make the Carolinas an even better place to live. That’s especially true of those who have the biggest megaphones. Today, we’re using our megaphone to call attention to a big need in the Carolinas β€” and our game plan to address it.”

“In less than four months, most of us will have the opportunity to exercise our most sacred right as Americans: the right to vote.”

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The Panthers are doing their part – now it’s up to the local populace to take them up on their offer.

Josh Klein on Twitter
Josh K
Managing Editor at The Riot Report
Josh Klein is Managing Editor of The Riot Report. His favorite Panther of all time is Chad Cota and he once AIM chatted with Kevin Greene. Follow Josh on Twitter @joshkleinrules.