WORKSHOP #4: Making Your Vote Count, 4:00 p.m. — 5:15 p.m.
His appearance is scheduled with the workshop, “Making Your Vote Count,” to shed more light on the legislative processes that turn policy into law and on using the vote to create policy change.
State Rep. James Buskey of Mobile will be speaking about the legislative process in Alabama and how proposals on issues from education to taxation become laws. The workshop emphasizes the importance of voting to move policy and agendas for people the NAACP has traditionally served, says Jerry Burnett, Political Action Committee Chair for the NAACP ASC.
“Legislators only listen to people who vote. That’s why running up to the state house protesting and griping about these issues doesn’t do much good. The legislators you’re trying to convince, when you don’t vote for them, your arguments are falling on deaf ears,” he says. “If you want certain actions done, then you have to put people in office who do what you want them to do.”
However, he says analyses of voting in recent elections show that small percentages of voters even turn out to the polls. “When only 32 percent show up to vote and 68 percent sit on the sidelines, then you have no voice,” Burnett says. “And if your elected officials can’t get committee chairs (in State Legislature), then they can’t even bring the bills that concern your policies to the floor for a discussion, much less for a vote.”
Burnett also says Merrill has accepted his invitation to attend the Alabama NAACP Convention to address deep and concerns about the recent closings of 31 vehicle registration offices that issue driver’s licenses, one of the required forms of ID to vote.
Most of the offices close were in Alabama’s Black Belt counties, where 75 percent or more of the people are African American, largely poor and Democratic-leaning voters. Suspicions about the DMV closings have stirred national concerns about voter disenfranchisement. Merrill and other state officials have said the closures was an attempt to save money in a tight budget year, not to weaken people’s voting power.
Burnett says Merrill is scheduled to speak and answer questions at 5:30 p.m.
Get more information on the convention’s other workshops and full schedule HERE.