Black Churches Encouraging Congregations to Vote with “Souls to Polls” Campaign
A few weeks ago there was an AP story printed about pastors encouraging their congregants to stay home on Election Day. After evaluating the actual story, CNN Contributor Roland Martin proved that the article was inaccurate. And now, after being faced with new laws to restrict voter rights, many churches are using the “Soul to Polls” campaign to get their members to vote.
According to The Huffington Post, in an effort to exhort congregations to register to vote, church leaders are distributing registration cards in the middle of services, and many are pledging caravans of “Souls to the Polls” to deliver the vote.
The stepped-up effort in many states is a response by activists worried that new election rules, from tougher photo identification requirements to fewer days of early voting, are unfairly targeting minority voters, specifically, African-Americans who tend to vote heavily for Democrats. Some leaders compare their registration and get-out-the-vote efforts to the racial struggle that led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
In key swing states such as Florida and Ohio, proponents of the new election rules deny they are aimed at suppressing the minority vote in hopes of helping Republicans win more races. Reasons for their enactment vary between rooting out fraud and purging ineligible voters to streamlining the voting process.
But to some African-American leaders like the Rev. F.E. Perry, a Cleveland-based bishop in Ohio’s Church of God in Christ, it’s as if the 1960s barriers to black civil rights have returned all over again.
“We’ve come too far to sit idly by and watch that happen,” Perry said. “We want to get souls to the polls. Whatever it takes to get them there, that’s what we’re going to do.”