Early Voting For Florida Primary Ends With 'Souls To The Polls'

Aug 27, 2018

Churches and local organizations met voters at their polling places on Sunday with food and music to celebrate the last day of in-person early voting before Florida's primary Election Day on Aug. 28.

The voting drives held on this day--the Sunday before Election Day-- have come to be known as "Souls to the Polls." It stems from a long-standing tradition in the black community to combat voting disenfranchisement by providing transportation to the polls.  

1.6 million ballots had been cast in Florida's primaries by Friday, according to the Associated Press. The number already passed the 2014 elections, when 1.2 million votes were cast before Election Day. 

"Voting is something that everyone should be engaged in, but especially communities of color," said Dwight Bullard, the political director of the New Florida Majority, an independent, non-profit organization focused on helping marginalized communities become more civically engaged. 

New Florida Majority was one of the groups present at the South Dade Regional Library in Cutler Bay. For some voters it was their first "Souls to the Polls" and they were surprised to see the live DJ, dancing and free food. 

“Oh my God, they are dancing," said Raquel Dent, who went to the library to vote. "It was something different than going during the week, when you have the hustle and bustle of the regular people coming of off work."

Felicia Smith made it to the library with her family after church. She is not able to vote during weekdays because of work, so she took advantage of early voting on Sunday. 

"This is great today, this is short. I love it, but it's still worth it. I don't care how long the line, it's worth the vote," she said. 

Election Day is Tuesday, August 28.  It will be the last day for Floridians to vote to elect nominees for governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and U.S. Congress.