Faith Communities Mobilize to Protect Vulnerable Voters on Election Dayby GDN Shared Post October 21, 2016
(WASHINGTON, D.C.)— Longtime Christian social justice movement, Sojourners is leveraging its network of people, partner churches and social justice organizations to witness and confront voter intimidation on Election Day. Volunteers will help maintain a peaceful voting experience, especially for vulnerable voters who are being targeted. Many volunteers will be well-versed in non-violence training; which could be very important if the political polarization in this country continues to spiral downwards.
Recent unsubstantiated claims of a “rigged” election or the need to watch for fraudulent activity at the polls is stirring vigilantes – some have been quoted in the media discussing racial profiling and even violence. See Boston Globe coverage.
“Deliberately suppressing voting rights is the most effective technique for those seeking to obstruct the changes brought about by the new demographics in this country,” Jim Wallis, founder and president of Sojourners, said. “That is a fundamental moral issue, a democracy issue, not just a partisan one.”
The Sojourners led “Matthew 25: Witness the Vote” campaign asks participating organizations to be a faithful presence at the polls by providing food, water, chairs, support and a watchful eye if necessary. Volunteers will be prepared to report any suspicious activity and offer their phones should anyone need to consult with attorneys regarding activity at the polls.
“Every vote is crucial in this election,” Lisa Sharon Harper, chief church engagement officer at Sojourners said. “We want to safeguard the right to vote– a right many people have died for.”
In swing states like North Carolina, Ohio, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Michigan, where voter suppression tactics have been prevalent, voter protection efforts are particularly important.
“It should be said that certain candidates and office holders going back to Richard Nixon’s Southern Strategy have appealed to white racial resentment to win votes, often by using coded language,” Wallis said. “But this year we are seeing an unprecedented amount of open appeals to bigotry, xenophobia, and racism.”
The “Matthew 25: Witness the Vote” campaign is calling church leaders to show up in clergy collars and bring members from their congregations – even church choirs to serenade and sustain people in line at the polls. Participating churches will be using the hashtag #WitnesstheVote. Voter protection resource materials created for the campaign can be found at www.sojo.net/election.
Hashtag Watch: #WitnesstheVote
Sojourners, a movement of 46 years, envisions a future in which Christians put their faith into action in the passionate pursuit of social justice, peace, and environmental stewardship, working in partnership with people of other perspectives, for the common good of communities, families and individuals.