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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Prominent black leader disagrees with Clinton campaign early voting push



Hillary Clinton's campaign is pressing for more Florida counties to offer the maximum 168 hours for early, in-person voting, which starts Oct. 24. So far only 10 of 67 counties are doing that.

But state Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, who is likely to be in the Florida Senate after November, thinks the effort is misguided. Even though early voting is especially popular with African-American voters. Many black pastors promote "Souls to the Polls" early voting on the final Sundays before Election Day, but Rouson thinks the push should be on mail voting.

"Fewer people are going to the polls every election, and more people are voting by mail, so let's embrace the future," he said.

"Where I think the effort ought to be focused - and I said this to (my pastor) - is Ballot Sunday: In other words, encourage all 3,000 members of the congregation to request a vote by mail ballot and have them bring them all to church on Sunday, and have the supervisor of elections there to pick them up. Talk about convenience, talk about encouraging voting, and where do you fund the most numbers of African-Americans at 10 o'clock on Sunday but in church?"

Rouson is among a number of African-American Democrats lamenting lately that the Clinton campaign is not doing more to court and mobilize black voters. 

Bishop Victor Curry, an influential pastor and radio host in Miami, said he's close to giving up on the Clinton campaign.

"I'm not sure what's going on there. I don't know what they're waiting for. It honestly reminds me of the Alex Sink campaign for governor a few years back. There was no motivation," said Curry, suggesting that the Clinton campaign is mistaken if they think anti-Trump sentiment will be enough to drive strong black turnout.

He said he and other Democratic pastors and community leaders will work to drive out the vote with or without the Clinton campaign.

"This is for the soul of our country. My personal hashtag is #notonmywatch," Curry said. "I could not explain to my children and my grandchildren  that I sat on the sidelines and let Donald Trump, a  known racist, a known sexist, become president of the United States of America."

[Last modified: Friday, September 30, 2016 2:37pm]


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