U.S. House Protects ‘Souls to Polls’ Sunday Voting
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist introduced the amendment guaranteeing the availability of Sunday early voting to an ethics and voting protection package.
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday (March 7) adopted an amendment to H.R.1 – The For the People Act – that would protect Sunday early voting, also known as “Souls to the Polls.”
The amendment was introduced by U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, and Anthony Brown, D-MD.
“This amendment makes sure that no community in our nation is denied the right to early vote on Sundays,” Crist said. “For Florida and many other states, that means protecting ‘Souls to the Polls’ efforts to increase civic participation and help those with unreliable transportation and hectic work schedules vote. Higher turnout and greater participation strengthen our democracy – giving elected leaders a stronger, more representative voice.”
H.R.1, the House Democrats’ signature ethics and voting protections legislative package, creates federal requirements for the length of the early voting period, mandates an adequate number of polling places, and requires uniform hours of operation. As introduced, it did not require early voting to take place on Sundays for the same amount of time as the rest of the calendar week. The Crist-Brown amendment was designed to ensure equitable early voting hours every day of the week, Monday through Sunday.
“Souls to the Polls is the most important voting day for many communities in Florida and across America,” Crist said. “Our amendment protects Sunday early voting from any misguided voter suppression efforts. When more people vote, our democracy wins.”
Early voting has grown in popularity over the past 25 years, and more than two-thirds of states offer some sort of early voting. In 2018, 40 million Americans cast their votes early, and early voters comprised one-third of all Americans who cast a ballot.
In addition, state data shows that minorities are more likely to vote early; African-American churches often promote ‘take your souls to the polls’ programs that take church parishioners from Sunday services to the voting booth. However, since 2011, more than six states have cut back on early voting. A number of other states attempted to curb early voting; however, their efforts were blocked by the courts.
“Congress must ensure every eligible American citizen has the right to vote, the opportunity to vote, and unfettered access to the ballot,” Brown said.. “Guaranteeing fair and flexible early voting – especially on Sunday – is not just matter of inconvenience, it is critical for minority voters who disproportionately take advantage of it and often face higher barriers and disparate burden when deciding to cast a ballot – in lost pay, childcare and transit costs.”
Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which includes south and mid-Pinellas County.
For information about Crist, go to crist.house.gov.
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