The Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda and nearly a dozen other religious groups and organizations will convene at Decatur’s Rainbow Park Baptist Church on Sunday, October 30 to host a Souls to the Polls caravan and rally to encourage voter turnout throughout Dekalb County.
The event aims to mobilize religious voters on the final Sunday of this election’s early voting period.
The caravan will leave the church at 2 p.m. and travel to South Dekalb Mall in Decatur, one of Dekalb County’s in-person early voting locations. Once travelers have cast their ballots, the group will meet at McDonald’s to discuss motivating others in the community to do the same.
Voter mobilization events are no stranger to the Black community. Souls to the Polls is a movement that empowers Black voters to turn out at polling locations en masse following the conclusion of Sunday church service during an election season. Over time, the tradition has been met with hostility by Republican lawmakers in several states, some going as far as introducing legislation that drastically shortens the early voting time frame, and closes polling locations on the last Sunday prior to Election Day.
Georgia lawmakers drafted and passed their own voter restriction bill in March of last year that granted election boards in some underperforming counties the power to control their respective counties’ schedules for early voting. The election board overseeing Spalding County eliminated Sundays from their early voting schedule earlier this year in preparation for the 2022 midterm elections. The same bill, SB 202, also reduced the number of available polling locations in the state and limited the availability and usage of drop boxes for absentee voters.
Souls to the Polls remains active in some parts of the country, especially in cities with higher concentrations of Black residents.
Despite limitations, Georgians have appeared at the polls in record numbers so far this election season, with more than a million residents casting ballots over the course of eight days of early voting, according to data from the Secretary of State’s office. Fulton County voters alone have cast over 150,000 ballots as of Wednesday, far outperforming Georgia’s 158 other counties. Dekalb County is approaching the 100,000-ballot milestone, and Cobb and Gwinnett counties aren’t far behind.
Other groups planning to attend and participate in the event include, but aren’t limited to, the Dekalb County branch of the NAACP, the Georgia Black Women’s Roundtable, the Stone Mountain and Lithonia chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Dekalb section of the National Council of Negro Women and the HBCU Green Fund.