With seven days left before election day, some black churches in Florida are pushing their congregations to get to the polls in a last ditch effort to have their voices heard.
Even though over 90 percent of blacks support President Obama, black church leaders have acknowledged that the novelty of the first black president among blacks has died down. However, according to them, recent efforts to quell the black vote in the state may be the spark the community needs.
In an effort called "Soul to the Polls, black church leaders all over Florida are leading a charge to get tens of thousands of black voters to hit the polls early after church services, which is a tradition among black churches since the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
But recent efforts by Republican Gov. Rick Scott and other members of the local legislature to shrink the amount of days dedicated to early voting has some black church leaders thinking that not only is this an effort to suppress the black vote, but this may have unintended consequences for those local officials.
Rev. Eugene W. Diamond of the Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. told NYTimes.com, "I hate to say it, but Republicans probably would have done better if they had not tampered with early voting."
Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr. of Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, also located in Jacksonville, told Reuters.com these "tricks" by their locally elected leaders are unfortunate because many blacks vote the last Sunday before Election Day.
To circumvent what McKissick, Jr. feels is an effort to tamper the black vote, McKissick Jr. said, "Our plan is that all over the city, when the churches open, we all are going to get in our vans and buses and cars and we are going to the polls."
Though Florida remains one of 32 states that allows early voting, they only allow it up to eight days before election day -- well below the national average of 19 days. Just last year, the state allowed 14 days to vote early, but Gov. Rick Scott and other elected officials removed six of those days.
According to NYTimes.com, in 2008, black voters cast their early ballots twice the rate of whites. Black voters showed up en masse the Sunday before election day, helping Obama win the state that year.
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