(l to r) NAACP VP Janice Walthour, Pastor Michael Barbour AND Rev. Roderick McClennan

Leonardtown, MD — It was a first for what the organizers hope will be a regular event every two years. On Sunday the St. Mary’s County Branch of the NAACP held a “Souls to the Polls” event at Miedzinski Park on the Governmental Center grounds in Leonardtown. After food and socializing, some electioneering by candidates, a call to action by NAACP Vice President Janice Walthour and prayers from the ministers in attendance, the crowd marched over to the Early Polling place to cast their vote.

Among the attendees was a bipartisan group of candidates, including Democrats John Bohanan, Roy Dyson, John Alonzo Gaskin, Shane Mattingly, Francis “Jack” Russell and Len Zuza and Republicans Christy Kelly and Deb Rey.

“I know you are here because you know the significance of voting,” Walthour said, noting the nationwide attempts to restrict the early voting gains made in many states, including Maryland.

“We believe there is power to the people,” Walthour declared, citing the organizations long-standing educational efforts on the importance of elections and advocacy of the effects of elections on the minority community. She called the rally and march the first step in the process.

Walthour introduced representatives from more than a dozen-and-a-half churches and civic organizations represented at the rally.

Walthour said the get-out-to-vote effort would continue for the rest of the Early Voting through Thursday, with buses taking citizens to the Leonardtown polling place three times a day, 10 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m., from the Lexington Park Library.

Prayers were said before the march by Rev. Roderick McClanahan of First Missionary Baptist Church and Pastor Michael Barber of Dominion Apostolic Ministries. Dozens of marchers then followed two sign bearers denoting “Souls to the Polls” across the driveway, through the maze of campaign signs and up the front steps to the polling place.

Early voting is every day through Thursday, October 30th from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General Election day is Tuesday November 4th, with the polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. that day.