Religion Plays Role In Wisconsin Voter Turnout Efforts

Nuns On The Bus, Milwaukee Pastors Turn Dial Up On Get-Out-The-Vote Efforts

Nuns on the Bus have been leading a get-out-the-vote effort in Wisconsin in the runup to Tuesday's election. Photo: AFL-CIO (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Some voter turnout efforts for Tuesday’s election in Wisconsin have involved members of the state’s religious communities.

About 25 black pastors at rally outside Milwaukee’s city hall on Monday urged their congregations and other clergy members to vote. The rally was officially nonpartisan, but there was undeniably a call from the speakers for a change in the governor’s office.

Pastor Mose Fuller of St. Timothy Community Baptist church said it’s time for a politician who can bring people together.

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“In the last four years in this state, this state has been in disarray,” Fuller told the gathered crowd. “It hasn’t been doing nothing but fighting. The divisiveness — we are tired of that.”

Some pastors contend that shootings of young black men by police or vigilantes in Florida, Missouri and Milwaukee are partly due to racial minorities not exercising more clout at the ballot box.

Nathaniel Hamilton’s brother Dontre was killed by a police officer in downtown Milwaukee six months ago. Nathaniel said he doesn’t think the clergy are exploiting the deaths for political reasons.

“Knowing that people’s going to get out there and vote for Dontre, and on behalf of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, it’s helping us with the grieving process. Because we haven’t got the answers the we’re so desperately looking for,” said Hamilton.

Also adding a religious component to get-out-the vote efforts in Wisconsin this week are the national Catholic social justice group Nuns on the Bus. Sister Simone Campbell said voting can counter big campaign donors.

“We wanted to come to lift people up and say, we the people are the only ones who can vote,” said Campbell. “Dollar bills can’t vote.”

The nuns may use their bus Tuesday to give Milwaukeeans rides to the polls.