ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida pastors are pushing for lawmakers to reject a bill that would ban ballot boxes and apply limits to early voting in the state.
Clergy members went up to the State Capitol Thursday to fight against Senate Bill 90.
They say the legislation will not only hurt minority communities but discredit the work done by the state in this past election.
“We understand that this process seems to be very targeted against the communities of color,” Derrick McRae said.
He is the pastor at The Experience Christian Center.
Pastor McRae stood alongside a statewide of African-American clergy members and Equal Ground calling for a rejection of SB 90.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Senator Dennis Baxley who represents Sumter and parts of Marion counties.
If passed it would ban ballot drop boxes, limit who can handle someone else’s ballot to immediate family and require more frequent requests for mail-in ballots.
“The way that it is going about the development of the legislation without any empirical evidence to substantiate the need for such legislation. I do feel that it has racist tones,” Pastor McRae said.
Sen. Baxley sent out the following statement in response to the call to reject the bill:
“I want to thank The Florida State Network of African American Clergy Alliances for meeting with me this past week and for the opportunity to address their concerns. Our work on SB 90 continues through the committee process and we appreciate all the input that we have received. Election security is too important for us not to have the discussions. We want every eligible voter to have access but also to have confidence that their vote is being counted. We have a duty to protect the ballots of all Florida voters and we should be examining our elections process every year to ensure that it remains easy to vote and very hard to cheat.”
Yet, clergy members like Pastor Marcus McCoy with Greater Refuge Memorial Church disagree and say this bill seems like a push to silence voices.
“We are standing up with a voice to say, hey we should be in a season of making voting more accessible and not more retractable,” Pastor McCoy said.
News 6 political analyst also weighed in saying SB 90′s increased voting restrictions can hurt the same people drafting the legislation.
“You tell people they can’t vote they’re going to be determined to vote so I’m not sure this is a smart move by the Republicans,” Jim Clark said.
Clergy members are calling on community members to take action and call on their representatives to stop this bill.
Senate Bill 90 is still currently in the rules committee.
If voted through it could take effect July first of this year.
News 6 will continue to monitor this bill’s progress.