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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Alabama State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People kicked off its state conference on Thursday morning.

Members of NAACP branches from all over the state gathered in Huntsville to get both members and the public excited to exercise their right to vote in the 2020 elections.

State president Benard Simelton said voter education is more important now than ever.

“We’re supporting candidates who support our issues, whether that’s health care for all, whether that’s criminal justice reform, whether that’s increasing the minimum wage,” said Simelton.

He said he’s seen a noticeable increase in racial complaints in the past three years.

“We’re receiving complaints every day that people are being discriminated against, more than we have in the past,” Simelton explained. “We attributed that to the rhetoric, the racism, the business that we’re receiving that’s being spewed from the White House from the highest position in this country.”

As far as incumbent Senator Doug Jones is concerned, the state NAACP’s message is clear.

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” Simelton added.

Simelton said he believes in those who fight for equal rights.

“Senator Jones has done a lot for the African American community and for the state of Alabama, and certainly I think we would like to see him continue in that position,” said Simelton.

All things considered, the organization said it hopes that efforts will encourage a thoughtful vote regardless of a candidate’s party.

“Our main focus is going to be to get the vote out to educate people on what the issues are and the candidate’s position on those issues,” Simelton explained. “We think once they get to the polls they will make the right decision.”

Registration is required for the convention, but there are a few events open to the public.

See the full convention schedule here.