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Rally to get out the vote

Each day wasted is another vote not counted.

The Selma Dallas County Southern Christian Leadership Conference isn’t wasting any time.

The group is actively encouraging citizens to register to vote for the Nov. 4 presidential election.

That effort will culminate one day before Election Day with the Get Out the Vote Rally at 3:30 p.m. at Ronnie Sharpe Park.

The event’s purpose is to encourage people who are registered to exercise their basic rights.

“I’ve been out in the streets, and there’s a lot of young people who aren’t registered to vote and who are sort of fearful to tell somebody else they’re not registered,” said Kimesha Alvarado, acting chair of the local SCLC chapter. “But the more we tell people that that’s a basic Constitutional right, they get encouraged.”

Alvarado said the local SCLC is also working to get voting rights for felons reinstated.

“A lot of people who are classified as felons haven’t committed a crime of moral turpitude,” she said. “We’re trying to get those laws clearly defined so that people know exactly what their rights are.”

The rally is part of a national campaign by the SCLC called Million March to Vote. It targets people who have never voted, especially youth, and people who are willing to vote but don’t know how to register.

The rally will also include a membership drive.

“We’re just following a mandate from our headquarters in Atlanta and from Charles Steele, who’s the president of SCLC,” Alvarado said. “They’re telling all organizations across our nation to do a Get out the Vote Rally to encourage all people to exercise the right that many people fought for over the years.”

One of the goals of the national SCLC is community empowerment. That, according to the organization, is primarily achieved when people vote in elections.

Steele said on the SCLS’s Web site that many young people have lost sight of the struggles of people that died for equal voting rights. The group’s current mission is to re-ignite that fire.

The Selma SCLC chapter was very active, Alvarado said, until the death of one of its founding members, Clarence Williams. It has been dormant for the past three years.

Alvarado works closely with Fred Chaney, another charter member of the local chapter. Alvarado said Chaney shared with her the importance of teaching younger people the lessons of past struggles to attain the right to vote.

Contestants in the Rap the Vote contest will perform during the rally. The contest encourages registration by allowing people to vote for their favorite local rap artists.

The rally is free, non-partisan and open to the public.