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Al Sharpton Preaches Voter Education At Miami Church

MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Speaking at a Miami church Sunday morning, Reverend Al Sharpton said officials must work to "bring souls to the polls".

The activist and talk show host addressed elected officials, candidates, clergy and community leaders at New Birth Baptist Church Cathedral of Faith International on NW 135 Street in Miami.

Sharpton also discussed voter registration, rule changes and the overall importance of voter participation.

Early voting, which began Saturday and continues through August 11th in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties, was another focus point of Sharpton's speech.

Sharpton said his organization, the National Action Network (NAN), plans to tackle one of the "new laws" of contention, the "early voter" option.

"Voter ID laws are wrong in my judgment," he told the congregation. "Voter purging is wrong in my judgment."

Black leaders at the church rally argued that the new voter identification laws in combination with cuts to early voting hours and Sunday voting are an effort to suppress minorities from voting.

"We do not have the luxury of staying home or finding excuses," said U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. "We can not let voter suppression coming out of Tallahassee stop you from voting. You can either have an ID or an absentee ballot. But you must vote."

Civil Rights leaders are fighting the new voter identification laws. But in the meantime they are campaigning to have voters had to the polls and cast their ballots.

"So many people died so that we could have the right to vote," said Wilson.

But supporters of the new laws believe voter registration needs to be researched carefully to prevent fraud. In Florida there have been many cases of dead people voting and other irregularities.

"We're doing the right thing," Governor Rick Scott told CBS 4 News back in June. "We're making sure that your election which you care about is going to be an election that the people are voting are people that have the right to vote."

Sharpton said he believes those efforts are detrimental.

"We have said produce the numbers and there's been a fraction of one percent that they have been able to produce," said Sharpton. "We've also seen the voting purge that there have been hundreds of people purged that were legally voting."

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