Faith-based initiatives to get out the vote are rooted in Christian, Jewish and Muslim traditions and range from phone calls, handwritten letters, and online educational events to knocking on doors
nIn a normal election year, the Rev. Salvatore Sapienza would be running a voter registration drive in the fellowship hall behind the United Church of Christ congregation he leads.
But a pandemic means the “new normal.” So the Rev. Sapienza and church members have had to innovate in 2020.
Serving the small, rural population of Douglas, Michigan, the Rev. Sapienza’s congregation is made up mostly of retirees who are at risk of dying from COVID-19. His older congregants need to vote by mail and still “want to feel secure in knowing that their ballot has been delivered,” he says.
So the church is coordinating volunteers who will shuttle voters — with their mail-in ballots in hand — to the county clerk’s office to submit them in person.
As in past election seasons, nonpartisan, faith-based initiatives are encouraging Americans — Christian, Jewish and Muslim — to not only get informed about the candidates and issues but to vote. A global pandemic, however, has forced religious organizations to rethink their methods and come up with creative ways to reach voters.
While volunteers from the Rev. Sapienza’s congregation are shuttling his flock to the clerk’s office, other groups around the country are holding remote voter information meetings or writing personal letters and using their phones to achieve ambitious goals of encouraging as many as one million would-be voters to submit their ballots.