This year, the Alabama legislature will have four amendments on the midterm election ballots that not only will affect you negatively but also violate basic human rights. I interviewed with the UAB’s Social Justice Advocacy Council lead coordinator, Renuka Srivastava, to get a better understanding. Renuka Srivastava is a junior at UAB, majoring in political science and international studies. She is a social justice advocate, who fights for equality for all.
Here is our #Amendments101 guide to explain each of the four amendments, how it affects YOU and why you must go out and vote on November 6th.
Amendment 1: “ Providing for certain religious rights and liberties; authorizing the display of the Ten Commandments on state property and property owned or administrated by a public school or public body; and prohibiting the expenditure of public funds in defense of the constitutionality of this amendment.”
The Ten Commandments are biblical principals of what is wrong and right for Christianity and Judaism. If this amendment were to pass, public properties (schools, Colleges, libraries, etc. ) have the right to practice the commandments whether you believe in them or not.
Renuka states, “This amendment is a human right violation because it violates our first amendment right of freedom of religion.” As people of this country, we all have the basic right of believing and practicing our desired religion. Therefore, by passing this amendment, Alabama would be doing nothing but creating injustice for those who believe in religions that are not Christianity or Judaism. What happened to the separation of church and state?
Amendment 2: “To declare and otherwise affirm that it is the public policy of this state to recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life and the rights of unborn children, most importantly the right to life in all manners and measures appropriate and lawful; and to provide that the constitution of this state does not protect the right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
If Amendment 2 were to pass, this gives the government the right to not only make abortion unlawful but end all funding that goes to planned parenthood organizations. The Supreme Court in 1973 declared that abortion is a “fundamental right” for American citizens who need it. By passing this amendment, our system will go backwards when it should be going forward. It is a human right that women have access to planned parenthood and the reproductive choices we deserve. We cannot let the government, especially men, tell what a woman can or cannot do with HER OWN body. Whether you believe in abortions or not, ALL women should have access to better reproductive healthcare. Women should have their choice.
Amendment 3: “Relating to the Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama, to specify that the congressional districts from which members are appointed continue to reflect those as constituted on January 1, 2018, to remove the State Superintendent of Education from membership, and to delete the requirement that members vacate office at the annual meeting of the board following their seventieth birthday.”
To put this amendment into simpler terms, First, it provides that the Alabama Board of Trustees will be composed of members from congressional districts as those districts existed on January 1, 2018, not changing after redistricting. This amendment will allow a trustee to serve after his or her seventieth birthday, meaning, it increases the age limit to serve. And lastly, removes the Board of Education Superintendent from Board of Trustees. You might be thinking, why does this matter? Or that this doesn’t so bad. However, by passing this amendment, the University of Alabama board of trustees will simply make the system unfair. This is important to YOU because the decisions these board trustee members make affect YOU as a UAB student.
Amendment 4: “To provide that, if a vacancy in either the House of Representatives or the Senate occurs on or after October 1 of the third year of a quadrennium, the seat would remain vacant until a successor is elected at the next succeeding general election.”
If a vacancy occurs in the state legislature, the seat will remain vacant until the next general election. This amendment simply will put an end to special elections that would need to be held in order to fill vacancies in the House of Representatives or the Senate. An example of a special election is this past years senate race between Doug Jones and Roy Moore. After Jeff Sessions left his position in the Alabama Senate to work under the Trump administration, there was a seat vacant in the Senate. That was when Alabama held a special election to fill that space.
Alabama made a historical night when they elected Doug Jones as a senator. However, if you were to vote “yes” for this amendment, there would never be an election like the one for Doug Jones and Roy Moore. This would simply make it harder for newer people to enter our legislative system and make new reforms for the state of Alabama. Renuka adds, “These four amendments truly define the atmosphere of politics today and how much politics affects one’s everyday life. This is going beyond simply creating infrastructure or public institutions,”
According to the Alabama Secretary of State, the total number of register voters in Alabama in 2018 rounds up to 3,430,329. Our of those 3 million people, 305,835 people are inactive when it comes to voting during elections. Comparing it to the past years’ statistics, Alabama has been increasing its number of active voters and decreasing the number of inactive voters. Exercising the right to vote is a civic duty that we have as Americans. Especially, in times like these when the government is trying to pass amendments and elect representatives that could make a big impact on our lives.
Renuka believes, “Each of these amendments directly affects one’s core values. Whether or not you support these amendments, everyone needs to have their voices heard regarding these amendments.”
So, why is important that you vote on November 6th?
Renuka believes, “This election is going to define the state that Alabama will be in for the next four years, and these next four years are unlike any other. The world is globalizing faster than Alabama is currently able to handle it, and if we don’t change the way that we do things around here, we will fall behind once again.”
It is not breaking news the Alabama legislative has had a bias system, making the system more backward and corrupt than ever. “We’ve had career politicians that are somehow investing 6 figures in their campaigns when their salaries are nowhere near that figure. We have politicians surpassing the African-American vote and openly pouring public funds into their own pockets. We have had an overwhelming amount of corrupt politicians having to step down either due to sexual harassment issues or financial gain through public office,” says Renuka
It is time that we create a change in the state of Alabama and this election is the next move. We can no longer elect officials who do not have the right mind or values as us, who want to make Alabama a better place.
Renuka adds, “This is the election that we need to remove such individuals from office or else not only will the state fall behind on the global level, but it will also fall behind within the nation. Birmingham is growing faster than what Alabama can even handle. We need to elect individuals who will help Alabama grow the way Birmingham is currently growing. We need individuals that encourage everyone to vote, and empower Alabamians instead of stripping their rights away.”
Millennials and Generation Z voters are the most important people to show up to the polls because these issues and politicians affect us the most. As the future generations of this state country, the decisions are legislators make will make a bigger impact on our lives than those before us. It is time that we prove these corrupt leaders that are vote does matter and what we believe in is important for this country. As young people, we represent one of the most diverse groups and have a huge chance of making a difference in our political system. But, that is only if EVERYONE VOTES. So if you are registered to vote, GO VOTE!
Change starts with us.
To learn more information, make sure to check out the Social Justice Advocacy Council’s table at the performance lounge of the Hill Student Center from 11 am to 1 pm!