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Pastors Encourage Voting To Change Jacksonville

Erik Hersman

Early voting began Monday in Jacksonville city elections.

African-American pastors held a get-out-the-vote rally at an early-voting location on the city’s Northside.

Residents can transform Jacksonville — socially, spiritually and economically — if they go to the polls and vote.

That’s the message a group of Baptist Ministers from around the First Coast are trying to drive home.

Duval Baptist Ministers Conference President Darien Bolden says economic, education and criminal justice policies have been unfair toward African-Americans in Jacksonville.

“The current crime, gangs and community unrest are directly related to public policy and a lack of justice that we can help transform by going to the polls and voting,” Bolden said.

The ministers say they’re not endorsing specific candidates. They urge voters to choose based on conscience.

Early voting runs through May 17. The city election is May 19.

Corrected: A previous version of this story said early voting runs through May 15. 

Peter Haden is an award-winning investigative reporter and photographer currently working with The Center for Investigative Reporting. His stories are featured in media outlets around the world including NPR, CNN en Español, ECTV Ukraine, USA Today, Qatar Gulf Times, and the Malaysia Star.