Pastors expect high turnout for 'Souls to the Polls' effort

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Dozens of Central Florida churches are getting together to help increase the number of black early voters.

This Sunday, pastors are getting together to put parishioners on a bus and take them to the polls.

Pastor Derrick McRae pf the Experience Christian Center is one of dozens of church leaders in Central Florida helping the black community vote early.

“Souls to the Polls has historically been the time the African-American community comes together and votes very strong,” he said.

He expects hundreds of black voters to show up to vote.

He said in 2012, 800 people boarded buses and were taken to vote.

“Usually we kind of wait for that great time with the church when all the church members come together,” McRae said.

CNN released numbers Friday showing a smaller percentage of blacks are voting early in Florida.

So far, 12 percent of blacks voted early compared to 16 percent in 2008 when President Barack Obama, who was a senator at the time, faced Sen. John McCain.

“For the African-American community to come out and vote, it was personal, it was emotional,” said WFTV political analyst Maria Padilla.

Padilla said it’s partly why Obama has been busy on the campaign trail supporting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Obama is not on the ballot right now, which is one of the reasons why when he is going out on the stump for Hillary Clinton, you do hear him make that personal and emotional appeal to the audience,” Padilla said.

Most counties in Central Florida will end early in-person voting Saturday, except for Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Polk counties.

Voters in those four counties will have until Sunday to vote early.