The Big Role Black Churches Have in Two Senate Races

Mayshell Pough of Decatur, Ga., danced at a Democratic rally encouraging early voting this week. Credit David Goldman/Associated Press
Mayshell Pough of Decatur, Ga., danced at a Democratic rally encouraging early voting this week. Credit David Goldman/Associated Press

Early voting on Sundays has been one of the biggest fronts in the voting wars of recent years. Some of this past Sunday’s early voting numbers make the reason quite clear.

Data from two states that permit Sunday early voting, Georgia and North Carolina, show that 53 percent of the 25,000 early votes cast on Sunday were from black voters, compared with 27 percent of early voters across the two states since voting began for this year’s midterm elections.

“Souls to the Polls” drives are a big part of the explanation. Black churches often promote voting after services, sometimes even taking church members directly to the polls. Such drives are traditionally most popular on the Sunday before an election, when black turnout might be even higher than it was on Sunday.

A good portion of these voters would have probably cast ballots anyway. But given the margins that Democrats run up on Sundays, it is not hard to see why so many Republican election officials have sought to restrict early voting on Sundays.

Florida and Ohio moved to limit early voting on Sundays before the 2012 presidential election. (Florida has since reinstated early voting; Ohio will allow voting the weekend before the election.) North Carolina no longer has early voting on the Sunday before the election — this past Sunday was the only Sunday for in-person early voting there this year.

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SOURCE: N.Y. Times – Nate Cohn

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