To mark National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 26, faith leaders with the nation’s largest faith-based grass roots organization are helping their congregations and community members learn about their voting rights and encouraging them to register to vote.
PICO National Network is also urging elected officials to make access to voting easier, noting that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has done more to encourage voter suppression than anything else.
“The right to vote is sacred and one of the first things we can do to protect it is to ensure everyone in our respective networks is registered to vote,” said Bishop Dwayne Royster, political director for PICO National Network.
National Voter Registration Day, first observed in 2012, offers a prime opportunity for faith leaders to encourage people to counter voter-suppression trends on display in communities across the country by engaging their communities in voter education and outreach efforts.
“Like our ancestors before us, we continue to fight for our right to create a true democracy about and for the people, a right to declare our God-given voices to champion the cause of the widow, the stranger, the sick, the children and ALL the people who are the most vulnerable in our society,” said Phyllis M. Hill, Southeast regional director of PICO National Network’s LIVE FREE Campaign. “We must vote, talk about voting, build systems and structures that make it easier to vote, and create strong vehicles—organizations and institutions—to make the vote matter long term. Voter Registration Day isn’t about one day. It is, however, a reminder to engage and build with our various communities to make our Kingdom Come.”
The American Civil Liberties Union noted that since 2008, various states have enacted laws “to make it harder for Americans—particularly black people, the elderly, students, and people with disabilities–to exercise their fundamental right to cast a ballot.” According to the ACLU, the harshest state laws enacted to permanently bar individuals with a felony conviction from voting have been enacted in Florida, Iowa and Kentucky. They also highlighted similar laws prevent roughly 5.85 million Americans from voting.
“Moral vision and shared aims are more important than ever as we combat the divisiveness and bigotry of today’s political environment,” said the Rev. Dr. George C. L. Cummings, a PICO National Network board member and pastor of Imani Community Church in Oakland, California.