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Alabama Democratic Party to consider bylaw changes Saturday

The Alabama Democratic Party is scheduled to consider significant changes to its party bylaws on Saturday.

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The Alabama Democratic Party is scheduled to consider significant changes to its party bylaws, including how members of the party’s executive committee are selected and the terminology used for diversity caucuses, during its upcoming meeting in Montgomery on Saturday, according to a copy of the proposed bylaws obtained by APR.

Additionally, the proposed changes augment or otherwise remove a considerable portion of the inclusive language included in the current bylaws passed in 2019.

The proposed bylaws, if adopted, would consolidate control for elements in the party that possessed greater influence prior to the chairmanship of Chris England and lost it with the inclusion of the diversity caucuses and various changes to the party makeup over the past several years.

The change that has brought the largest amount of controversy among party members is the reclassification of diversity caucuses to “diversity constituencies” and the apparent combination of several diversity caucuses into a single Ethnic Minority Committee.

Where previously, the Hispanic, Native American, and Asian/ Pacific Islander Caucuses existed as separate entities, the proposed bylaws appear to enter them into a single Ethnic Minority Committee.

Renaming of the Minority Caucus to the Prevailing Racial Minority, changing the name of the Youth Caucus to the Young Adult Committee, the addition of a Veterans Committee, and preservation of the LGBTQ+ Caucus are other proposed changes.

There is no mention of a Disabled Persons Caucus or Committee, whereas the current bylaws specify a Disabled Persons Caucus.

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Another drastic change is in at-large member selection for the state executive committee. Under the current bylaws, each of the diversity caucuses elects new at-large members independently, in accordance with the Diversity Goals, with those slates of new members either accepted or rejected by the other at-large executive committee members. If a motion is made to reject a given slate, two-thirds must support that motion for the caucuses’ elector slates to be dismissed.

The proposed changes would allow for “a caucus of the elected minority members of the State Committee” to select “this number of persons, if any, to be added onto the State Committee,” with the Prevailing Racial Minority caucus to meet two hours prior to a scheduled organizational meeting to determine additional minority members. The proposal does not allow an option for the rejection of this slate.

Josh Coleman, president of the Alabama Young Democrats and a Democratic National Committee member, penned a letter earlier this month to Alabama Democratic Party Chairman Randy Kelley expressing concern over the proposed bylaws.

Coleman, who ran for party chairman last year, mentioned that many SDEC members, including himself, did not receive a copy of the proposed bylaws from party leadership, with many other members not receiving notice of both the bylaws and the upcoming meeting, which is not in compliance with the standing bylaws.

As of Jan. 18, Coleman had yet to receive an official copy of the proposed bylaws from party leadership, relying instead on a copy circulating among members.

“If these are the proposed amended bylaws, they appear to eliminate or reduce most diversity caucuses, in effect disenfranchising important groups within the Democratic Party,” Coleman wrote in the letter on Jan. 11. “Implementing these proposed amended bylaws would result in the Alabama SDEC not being governed by a diverse and equal party committee as required by the DNC Charter and would be a sad step backward for our Party.”

In addition, Coleman described the “amendments” to the party bylaws as “a complete rewrite” that places the state party out of compliance with DNC requirements “related to diversity, inclusion, and belonging,” in a statement sent to APR on Wednesday.

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“We, the Democratic Party, are a big tent party – our diversity is our strength,” Coleman said in the statement on Wednesday. “According to these proposed bylaws, it would appear that here in Alabama, we are more focused on exclusion than inclusion.”

In an interview with Alabama Politics This Week on Thursday, Chairman Randy Kelley described the changes as “minor” and said that rumors circulating among party members about the removal of the diversity caucuses amount to disinformation.

“The caucuses cannot be eliminated,” Kelley said. “The bylaws mirror the bylaws of the Democratic National Committee.”

The State Democratic Executive Committee will meet just before lunch on Saturday to consider changes to its bylaws, as well as several vacancies.

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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