By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The United States is a republic, which selects its leaders through representative democracy. The not-so-secret truth, is that the people who show up to vote are the people who pick the representatives for all of us. The Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) recognizes that not enough Hispanic citizens participate in Alabama elections and the group has announced an initiative to change that.
A new group, Alabama Vota just announced in a written statement on Wednesday that it will be targeting low-propensity Latino voters across the State of Alabama. The group will be focusing primarily on the Huntsville and Birmingham areas and hopes to register hundreds of new voters and host dozens of events in the next two months while energizing immigrant and Latino communities to participate on Election Day.
ACIJ staff member, Yazmin Contreras said in a written statement, “In the 2010 and 2012 elections, our community had very low rates of participation. We think that voting is an important way to invest in one’s local community, and that’s really why we’re doing this. It’s not about political party, we just want everyone to participate in our democracy and recognize the importance of voting.”
The Executive Director of the ACIJ, Ingrid Chapman said, “Although we’ve primarily been focused on policy change and immigration reform in the past, voter engagement is the next step in our work after fighting against HB 56.”
In their statement, Alabama Vota will educate voters about how to vote, and has created bilingual informational materials on Alabama’s new Voter ID law in addition to their voter registration and outreach efforts.
To this point, the ACIJ has been unable to convince the Republican members of the Alabama Congressional delegation to support immigration reform efforts. They also were unable to convince the Republican super-majority in the Alabama legislature not to pass HB 56, Alabama’s landmark anti-illegal immigration law. Despite determined opposition from ACIJ and their allies the legislature passed HB 56 in the 2012 legislative session. In 2013, the legislature passed HB 656 which was legislation to modify HB 56. Again the ACIJ failed to convince the state legislature that a less stringent anti-immigration law was needed.
Eventually the federal courts intervened on behalf of the ACIJ and most provisions of the controversial law have been blocked by federal court rulings.
This is expected to be a very low turnout November election, thus any higher than normal turnout in places could be decisive in individual races.