African-American and Latino churches are doing all they can to get members into the polling booths next month. New laws that some believe could keep the minority vote from turning out on Election Day, such as voter identification rules and a smaller window for early voting, have prompted groups to put in extra effort to keep target groups in the know.
Refusing to let their past civil rights achievements be thrown to the wayside, churches in battleground states have rallied around the notion of taking "souls to the polls" and passed out voter registration cards during their services. They've also presented attendees with the task of going out into their communities to continue spreading information and pushing others to register.
The Associated Press reports:
"'In light of all this, we are saying just let our people vote,' said the Rev. Dawn Riley Duval, social justice minister at the Shorter Community A.M.E. Church in Denver. 'The people are being oppressed by these measures. It has ignited a sense of urgency and collective power that we can take by engaging in the process.'
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.'"
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