Vote Or Die Campaign moving across state : ANSC Convention discusses youth involvement in voting and creating excitement in the build-up to Dec. 12 election

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Youth involvement panel at ANSC Convention includes William Scott, Moderator and panelists (l to R) Jasmine Walker, Jamia Jackson, Terri Wiggins and Azali Fortier

The Alabama New South Coalition met for its Fall Convention at the Montgomery Windcreek Casino on Saturday, November 2, 2017. The convention was well attended with over 200 delegates from twenty active chapters around the state.
The ANSC Convention was dedicated to creating interest and excitement in the December 12, Special Election for the U. S. Senate seat, vacated by Jeff Sessions. Democrat Doug Jones is running against Republican Roy Moore in a contest with state and national implications that is five weeks away.

The ANSC Convention featured a panel on youth involvement in politics and voting, a play about counteracting voter apathy, a report from county chapters on activities in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ and luncheon speeches from two 2018 gubernatorial hopefuls – Sue Bell Cobb and Walt Maddox- and introduction of other candidates for next year.
The youth panel spoke about ways to motivate voters 18 to 40 to more actively participate in elections by utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to reach out to millennials on issues of concern to them. William Scott, panel moderator said he was working as the webmaster for the Vote Or Die Campaign Facebook account and for members and chapters to mail in reports and photos of activities that they want posted to this Facebook account.
Several ANSC chapters gave short reports on their work in the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’ across the state.
• Sam Walker from Dallas County reported that they meet once a week on Thursdays and hold rallies holding ‘Vote Or Die’ signs as human billboards at the bridge in Selma and other sites around the city. We ask motorists to honk their horns in support of the campaign.
• Billy Billingsley of Gadsden is using voter lists from several organizations to do phone banking and door to door canvassing.
• Rebecca Marion of Tallapoosa County said her group was busy putting out Vote Or Die signs and canvassing for absentee voters.
• John Harris of Lee County said his chapter was meeting with ministers to help get out the vote. The chapter is also going into the jail, visiting barbershops, and going door-to-door for registration and absentee ballots.
• Esther Brown said her Project Hope death row prisoners were contacting family and friends to urge them to register and vote in this upcoming Special Election.
• Herman Mixon and Beulah Toney of Madison County reported on efforts to register people at community centers and A & M University. They are using social media to reach and motivate high school and college youth.
• Matilda Hamilton of Tallapoosa County had registered 153 new voters through the school system and was participating in rallies together with Lee County.
• Gus Townes reported that Montgomery County was working on voter registration; also focusing on ex-felons and working with churches to reach and register 1,000 new voters before the November 27, 2017 closing date before the Special Election.
• Rev. Hugh Morris from Talladega County said ANSC, ADC, NAACP, fraternities and sororities were working together to canvas, register and turn out voters. Michael Scales, ANSC Talladega County Chapter President said they were working with Talladega College, pastors and others on the campaign.
• Everett Wess of Jefferson County said the ANSC Chapter was partnering with other groups, had participated in the tailgating leading up to the Magic City Classic football game and other community gatherings to register voters and spread the ‘Vote Or Die Campaign’.
• Carol P. Zippert reported for Greene County that 50 high school students were registered and assisted with proper photo ID’s. A large community meeting was held to explore community issues like the future of the hospital and healthcare, recreational programs for youth and voting. U. S. Senate Candidate Doug Jones listened to the discussion and made remarks at the end. Greene County is now concentrating on absentee ballots and walk-in early voters for the next four weeks.
• A Macon County representative spoke on involving Tuskegee University Students in doing voter registration and canvassing leading up to the special election.
• Senator Hank Sanders reported that he has cut radio and TV ads promoting the importance of voting that are available to be sent to stations around the state. He said he participated in human billboards in Selma to promote the “Vote Or Die Campaign’.
Faya Rose Toure and a group from Selma and other counties did a role-play skit about voter apathy and reasons people give for not voting and how to counteract those concerns. The play was well received by ANSC members.
At the closing luncheon, ANSC members heard from two Democratic candidates who are planning to run in the June 2018 primary. Sue Bell Cobb, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court said she proposes an Alabama lottery to generate funds for childcare, K-12 public education and closing the gap between Pell Grants and the cost of college tuition.
Walt Maddox, Mayor of Tuscaloosa said he was running for Governor, “to build a brighter future for Alabama and make Alabama a better state for everyone.” He highlighted his record of rebuilding Tuscaloosa after the April 2011 tornadoes and making it the ninth fastest growing city in America.
Rev. Will Boyd of Florence announced that he was planning to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Audri Scott Williams indicated that she was running for U. S. House of Representatives for District 2 against incumbent Martha Roby. Everett Wess stated he was running for Jefferson County Probate Judge – Place 1.

‘Ride to Restore Section 5’ grassroots lobbyists push Voting Rights Advancement Act in Washington, D. C.

Special to the Democrat by: John Zippert,
Co-Publisher

Hodge.jpgwash group.jpgCongresswoman Terri Sewell address youth as part of the training to support ride to revive Section 5.

A group of sixty community activists from Alabama went to Washington, D. C. in six vans from Sunday to Tuesday (June 24-27, 2017) to support the Voting Rights Advancement Act (VRAA), HR 2948, introduced last week by our Alabama Congresswoman Terri Sewell.
The bill was introduced on the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Shelby vs, Holder decision, which gutted Sections 4 and 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Voting Rights Advancement Act would restore and advance Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act to include 14 states and other political subdivisions. These areas would again be placed under the protection of Section 5 and be required to have any election changes pre-cleared by the Department of Justice before they could be implanted.
The VRAA updates the criteria and establishes a nationwide coverage formula for states and political subdivisions that would be subject again to the pre-clearance provisions of Section 5. Any state that has had 15 or more voting violations in the last 25-year period; or 10 or more voting violations, at least one of the violations committed by the state itself, would be covered. A political subdivision within a state can be covered if it commits 3 or more voting violations.
The bill also carefully defines what constitutes a voting rights violation and which election changes must be submitted for pre-clearance.
Congresswoman Terri Sewell said, “The VRAA is an advancement bill, it advances voting rights throughout the country. Under this bill, all eleven states that were part of the Confederacy, including Alabama, as well as other political subdivisions around the nation and on tribal lands would be covered and subject to the pre-clearance provisions.”
The VRAA would classify voting changes such as strict voter photo identification requirements, and voter registration requirements to be reviewed and possibly overturned if they were deemed to be more stringent than the requirements in Section 303b of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002.The VRAA, HR 2948, has 182 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives. They are all Democrats. And the companion legislation S.1490 in the Senate has 46 co-sponsors, also all Democrats, so far.
The grassroots voting activists visited more than 75 Congressional offices, including the membership of the House Judiciary Committee, Alabama’s delegation of six Republican members besides Sewell and our two Senators – Richard Shelby and Luther Strange. The grassroots activists left a package of information including factsheets on the legislation, a Senate Sketches by State Senator Hank Sanders of Selma, which deals with the “power of one vote”, and materials about the Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma, the first weekend in March each year.
On Tuesday morning, the Alabama group joined by other activists in Washington from the Rural Coalition, Food and Water Watch, National Family Farm Coalition and other groups had a rally and press conference on the Capitol grounds facing the Cannon House Office Building on Independence Avenue and First Street NE.
The rally had many chants supporting the revival of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act along with civil rights freedom songs. Several Congresspersons, including Terri Sewell, G. K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Marc Veasey of Dallas, Texas and Katherine M. Clark of Massachusetts addressed the rally. Congressman John Lewis drove by the rally on Independence Avenue and saluted the crowd.
On Monday night, the group had a meeting at Howard University Law School, which was addressed by several civil rights veterans, including former D. C. Congressman Walter E.
Fauntroy, Viola Bradford, who wrote for the Southern Courier newspaper in Montgomery, Antonio Harrison, a former Alabama State Senator, who lives and works in D. C. Professor Ardua of the Law School spoke on the need for reparations to address the continuing impact of slavery on Black people.
The Ride to Revive Section 5 was sponsored by the SOS Coalition for Justice and Democracy, Alabama New South Coalition and other local groups in Alabama. For more information or to make donations to help the cause – contact Shelley Fearson at 334-262-0932 or email: Alabamanewsouth Coordinator@ aol.com