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Madison County nonprofit offers to pay half the cost to expand publication of voter list

United Women of Color has offered to pay half of the additional $7,000 to publish the list in the Black-owned Speakin’ Out News.

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A Madison County nonprofit that advocates for women of color has offered to pay half the cost for the Madison County Commission to advertise the county’s voter list in Speakin’ Out News, a Black-owned free-to-readers statewide newspaper located in Huntsville. 

That decision came after some on the Madison County Commission at a March 30 meeting discussed the exorbitant cost of placing the voters list in both the Huntsville Times and Speakin’ Out News. 

“We are offering the commissioners of Madison County a 50% match contribution toward the publishing of the voter’s list in Speaking Out News, the oldest black-owned publication in North Alabama,” said United Women of Color’s founder, Angela Curry, in a statement. “When the government won’t act in the best interest of its constituents, nonprofits often have to stand in the gap. At the March 30th meeting, Madison County Commissioners says that $7,000 is too much money to pay to publish the voter’s list in the area’s oldest Black-owned newspaper publication.”

“You can go in the recreation centers in north Huntsville, you can go to many of the larger churches and people can pick up Speakin’ Out News free of charge,” said Madison County  Commission District 6 Commissioner Violet Edwards, speaking at a March 30 commission meeting, according to News 19. “Yes, we have internet here on this board, we have phones (to research voting info) but there are people who still pick up that newspaper. They can still go on in that paper and make sure that their names are still on the lists.”

Commission Chairman Dale Strong at that March meeting described the additional $7,000 as a “pretty excessive expense,” according to News 19.  

“Publishing in the Speaking Out News would increase the reach of this public information,” Curry said. “Additionally, the Speaking Out News publication is free to the public and easily accessible to members of our community who are elderly and have less access to the internet as they are distributed in local churches, barbershops, and places people regularly visit. We believe this unwillingness to publish in both newspapers in a county where the largest city in Alabama is located, fosters a lack of public access to voter information.”

Edwards said at the March meeting that the need to advertise in both publications is the result of a purge ov voters in 2018 and that without the additional advertisement the county would be contributing to voter disenfranchisement, affecting thousands of voters of color, according to News 19. 

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“So many people got to the polls only to find out their name wasn’t on it and it left a lot of people bewildered after they were in the line, and how they’re trying to figure out just how they’re going to vote. It just left some frustration,” Edwards said, according to the news station. 

“In a time where redistricting has just taken place and voter disenfranchisement and suppression are at an all-time high, access to voter information needs to be expanded, not limited,” Curry said. “We believe providing these funds to the county commission is a necessary public service that will provide residents with public access to important information we all have a right to.” 

Ewards made a motion at the March 30 meeting to expand the voter list publication to Speakin’ Out News, but the motion wasn’t seconded, according to News 19. The commission could take up the matter again at the next meeting, set for April 13.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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