Georgia’s Black churches unite for voter engagement campaign

Black churches in Georgia are teaming up for the first time to mobilize Black voters in the battleground state ahead of November’s presidential election.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church have united in the hopes of pushing their combined 140,000 parishioners to vote.

The union comes amid what many Black leaders have called a critical election — one of “life or death” for Black voters — and concerns over voting restrictions in the Peach State.

In 2021, Georgia state legislators passed S.B. 202, an omnibus law that, among other things, restricted early voting and ballot drop boxes and instated new voter ID requirements.

S.B. 202, advocates have argued, is discriminatory and unconstitutional because it limits Black voters’ ability to cast their ballots.

The League of Women Voters of Georgia, NAACP Georgia and several other groups have since filed a lawsuit, alleging the law violates voter protections under the 14th and 15th amendments and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The churches, whose congregations lean Democratic, will have a budget between $200,000 and $500,000, according to The New York Times.

But the unification comes at an integral time for President Biden, whose popularity appears to be falling among Black voters.

Recent polls show Biden’s approval rating among Black adults at 42 percent — though former President Trump, the leading GOP candidate, isn’t faring much better with an approval rating of only 25 percent among Black adults.

Black voters in Georgia were key to Biden’s victory in 2020. Black voters in the state also helped Democrats secure control of the Senate with the 2022 election of Sen. Raphael Warnock.

Last year, the Democratic primary’s first stop was moved to South Carolina in an effort to prioritize Black voters. Democrats are hoping to capitalize on making the voting bloc a priority in 2024.

The Biden campaign also sent Vice President Harris on a tour of historically Black colleges and universities and aired ads on Black radio stations across the nation.

Other faith-based organizations have also begun voter engagement campaigns.

The Poor People’s Campaign, a coalition first led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., announced last week a 30-state voter engagement campaign to begin next month. In December, the National Action Network and the Conference of National Black Churches also announced a new partnership for their own voter engagement campaign.

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