MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — The Alabama Democratic Party is receiving criticism from its own members over new bylaws approved at a meeting Saturday.
Critics say they essentially take away the self-determination of certain minority members of the party, including those in the LGBTQ+ caucus, Youth caucus and Disabled caucus.
Party Vice Chair Tabitha Isner says now, just the Chair of Minority Affairs Joe Reed gets to pick how many of those members and who among them can vote on party decisions.
Isner says many of them weren’t even let into the meeting Saturday.
“All of it I would say was a sham. There’s no valid reason for those people to be denied their seats on Saturday,” Isner said.
Party Chairman Randy Kelley says, however, he thinks it was a transparent process and maintains the party is still diverse and inclusive with the new bylaws. Here’s why he says the changes were made.
“We had caucuses that were all messed up. We had a Hispanic Caucus and one gentleman was over it, the Hispanic caucus, but his birth certificate said he was white. We had a Native American Caucus with two people in it. So the whole thing was just messed up, period, that we inherited so what we’re doing is trying to straighten it out so we can operate smoothly,” Kelley said.
The Democratic National Committee in 2019 required the party to create those caucuses. Former Democratic U.S. Senator for Alabama Doug Jones says it may be time for the DNC to step in, once again.
“I think everything has to be explored at this point to see whether or not there are challenges that need to be filed, as were done in 2018. There were challenges filed that were ultimately successful that led to the changes of the bylaws that made the party structure more inclusive,” Jones said.
Both Isner and Jones emphasized they don’t think what happened Saturday is representative of the party as a whole, but say something needs to be done.