On Sunday morning, Rev. Steven Caldwell urged his parishioners to do their “godly duty” and vote in the primary election, warning them that “if you think your vote doesn’t count, the Devil has lied to you.”
If Caldwell’s booming words weren’t enough to move his flock, he had a coach bus waiting outside to drive them to an early-voting site after the service.
“We thank God for letting us play a part in the political process,” said Caldwell, pastor at the New Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. “We’re going to vote. Amen.”
New Providence’s early-voting bus trip represented just one cog in a broad effort by African-American churches to get their members to cast ballots on the last day of early voting before Primary Day on Tuesday.
Championed by Democrats, the churches’ “Souls to the Polls” strategy helped fuel a partisan battle in 2012 when Republican Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-led Legislature barred early voting on the Sunday before Election Day. They brought it back for 2014, making Sunday a revival of sorts for the relatively new campaign tradition.