Georgia Republicans want to get rid of Sunday voting

These potential new restrictions could greatly impact the Black church's vital role of facilitating voting initiatives after church services

The New York Times reported that Georgia Republicans are now proposing new restrictions on weekend voting which could greatly impact the Black church’s vital role of prompting Black voters to head to the polls after church services.

“Souls to the Polls” is a tradition amongst Black communities across the country to encourage civic engagement during elections. After suffering losses in the presidential election and two Senate run-off elections, the Republican party is making efforts to rapidly create measures to suppress the Black vote which greatly assisted Democrats.

The House Bill 531 passed in the lower chamber and will soon arrive at the state Senate, according to ABC News.

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Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees 534 African Methodist Episcopal, said, “The only reason you have these bills is because they lost.”

He continued, “What makes it even more troubling than that is there is no other way you can describe this other than racism, and we just need to call it what it is.’’

Pastor Bernard Clark of St. Philip Monumental A.M.E. church in Savannah said his sermons on Sundays in alignment with elections are opportunities to encourage fellowship and to make a difference.

“It is an opportunity for us to show our voting rights privilege as well as to fulfill what we know that people have died for, and people have fought for,” Clarke said.

The push for new voter restrictions in Georgia echoes the efforts of other Republican-controlled state legislatures in other states like Iowa, Arizona and Texas.

In February, Stacy Abrams called the bill unnecessary and said there’s a need for federal protections of voter rights, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Abrams and grassroots organizations in Georgia were vital in registering more than 800,000 new voters which helped President Joe Biden secure his win.

In an op-ed “The Republican Party is making Jim Crow segregationists proud” for The Washington Post, columnist Eugene Robinson, acknowledged the attempts to ignite voter suppression, writing, “voters of color must resolve not to be deterred. This is not a “Whites only” democracy. Not anymore.”

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, who lost a Senate run-off election in January to Rep. Raphael Warnock, has reportedly started a voter group “Greater Georgia” to rival Abrams.

“The importance – and even the sanctity of their vote – is in question. That’s why we’re rolling up our sleeves to register conservative-leaning voters who have been overlooked, to regularly engage more communities, and to strengthen election integrity across our state,” Loeffler said.  

Former First Lady Michelle Obama issued a statement in opposition to the efforts by Republicans, saying, “Nothing is more important to our democracy than safeguarding our right to vote.”

“Our democracy remains under attack the partisan and unpatriotic actions of those at the state level who are doing everything they can to curtail access to the ballot box,” Obama wrote. “Make no mistake — the idea that we cannot both hold secure elections and ensure that eligible voters can make their voices heard is a false choice.”

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People took to Twitter to voice their opinions about the new suppression efforts.

Enchancia Hope Lerch tweeted, “Georgia House Republicans just introduced a Jim Crow era bill that would prevent people from voting early on Sundays, knowing full and well that that is when Black churches hold their ‘Souls to the Polls’ events with parishioners to vote after church services. #StopVoterSuppression.”

Political reporter Hugo Lowell tweeted, “Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer rips Georgia GOP on Senate floor, condemning move to eliminate early voting when Black churches do Souls to the Polls: ‘Nothing, nothing, seems more despicable than this.”

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