By Al Whitaker
WHNT-TV News, December 13, 2017 —
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The election of Doug Jones Tuesday was not only historic in that he’s the first Alabama Democrat elected to the Senate in nearly a quarter-century. Those who helped get him there describe their effort as historic.
Long before the polls opened, voter turnout was said to be the key to victory. The NAACP launched a massive effort to not only get voters to the polls, but to increase awareness. Benard Simelton, the president of the NAACP’s State Conference, says the message was simple.
“This is an important election. Don’t stay home this time. You’ve got to get out to cast your vote. And so through that effort, we were able to reach a massive number of people through text messages and phone banking, in numbers that we have not seen before,” Simelton tells WHNT News 19.
Simelton says there were literally hundreds of volunteers who made the calls and sent the text messages. But analysts agree, it was black voters who went to the polls in near-record numbers that swung the election for Jones.
Simelton says Roy Moore offered the black voter nothing but a return to the way things used to be.
“It’s going to affect you and you’ve got to take ownership of this and make this about you and things you’re concerned about,” he says. The race will no doubt be studied by pundits and students of political science for many years.
A release from the Democratic National Committee says 98% of black women who voted yesterday cast their ballot for Doug Jones. Additionally, black men voted 93% for Jones. The release says black voter turnout was greater yesterday than for the 2012 Presidential election when Barack Obama ran for re-election.
Message from the NAACP:
There’s no doubt about it:
Last night, the African American community played a major role in 2017’s most pivotal election.
Thanks in part to NAACP voter mobilization drives, Black voters turned out in huge numbers to select their state’s new representative to the U.S. Senate.
NAACP staff and volunteers made more than 40,000 calls to voters throughout the state to persuade them to exercise their right to vote. The NAACP Alabama State Conference and partners conducted an unprecedented texting campaign that reached nearly 160,000 African Americans and women.
Our vote is reflective of a democracy refusing to exchange its integrity and character for the sake of selfish partisan politics.
There’s more work to do. Stand with the NAACP in the fight for voting rights in all fifty states.
President and CEO