Voter registration and GOTV campaign in churches

By Dorothy Inman-Johnson

Special to the Outlook

November 6,  will be an exciting and historic election day in Florida and America if we all do our share in making sure we are all registered and VOTE! Churches, particularly Black churches, since the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 60s have been the leaders in organizing our community to achieve major successes in the past; and they are key to victories this November. We have so much at stake in this Mid-Term Election. For the first time in history, and possibly in our lifetime, we have a realistic chance of electing our first Black Governor and Attorney General of Florida. Nationally, we have the best chance in almost a decade for the people of this country to take back control of Congress and bring accountability to a federal government that has veered very far off track.

Or we can settle for a low voter turnout in this mid-term, non-presidential election year as usual, and lose a century of hard won rights in the U.S. Constitution by allowing continued GOP control of all three branches of federal government; resulting in the appointment of the most anti-civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights lifetime Supreme Court Justices in history. The Kavanaugh nomination by Trump is a good example of what we can expect for the rest of our lifetime. His written opinions demonstrate a disdain for minorities, immigrants, women, affirmative action, and an affinity for the White ruling class over average working Americans. If we think the current President holds himself above the law today, just wait until he has both an enabling Congress and U.S. Supreme Court to protect him from consequences for his illegal and immoral behavior.  If we do not elect a Congress with a moral compass this year, Trump would be able to appoint 2 to 3 more justices like Kavanaugh during his first term as President due to the ages of current Justices; and roll the clock back to Jim Crow rule in America.

We can prevent that outcome in November, however. We must register and vote like our life depends on it. It does. That’s why the Progressive Leadership Council of North Florida and the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Action Network are kicking off a CAMPAIGN FOR 100 PERCENT  VOTER REGISTRATION IN BLACK CHURCHES. The campaign is requesting that each local pastor/ church take steps to make sure 100 percent of its members have valid voter registration cards by Sunday, September 23, 30, or October 7; and take advantage of opportunities provided by the Leon County Supervisor of Elections to set up voter registration tables at the church on one of those Sundays. The Voter Registration deadline is October 9 for anyone wishing to vote in this November’s election.

Next, every registered voter must vote! Each church member can further increase voter turnout during early voting and on election day  by making sure every eligible voter in their household, age 18 and over, is registered and votes. Churches, again, can help by arranging rides to the polls for members without transportation through car pools, or buddy ride sharing. Early Voting is scheduled October 22-November 4. Souls-to-the-Polls Sunday is November 4. There is really no excuse for anyone eligible to vote not voting. For a mail or absentee ballot, simply call the Leon County Elections Office at 850-606-8683. Mail ballots must be returned by 7 p.m. on November 6. And twelve days of early voting should provide adequate opportunities, regardless of work or family schedules, to get to a polling place to vote. The locations for early voting in addition to the Leon County Courthouse and the B.L. Perry Library are available by calling the Elections Office.

The role of the Black church is as important today as it was in the 50s and 60s when we were fighting for our basic rights as citizens of the United States. We have the ability to make history by electing the first Florida African-American Governor Andrew Gillum and Attorney General Sean Shaw, as well as the YES votes needed to pass Amendment 4 on the November ballot. It all boils down to voter registrations and getting every possible registered voter to the polls to cast a vote. Every church, every church member, and every one of us must play our part to return moral, responsible, and accountable government to Florida and our nation. We only need to register and vote!

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