ALABAMA

 

Candidates

NOTES:

  1. AL Voter Registration Deadline is Oct 19, 15 days before Nov 3, 2020.

  2. Stage 2 -- Excuse required with age waiver.

  3. Online registration recently available

FAVORITES:

  1. Act Blue Directory for Alabama

  2. Vote.org -- Everything about ever state

  3. Movement.vote/groups/ -- Help local, state orgs get out the vote

  4. Votevets.org -- Vets against voter suppression

  5. Votefwd.org -- Most popular way to volunteer to support getting out the vote

  6. VoteSaveAmerica.com -- Adopt a State

Voter Issues

AUGUST 2020

Alabama: A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by voting rights advocates who were seeking to loosen Alabama's restrictions on mail voting during the pendency of the pandemic, ruling that the plaintiffs had presented a "political question" not suitable for the courts to decide and saying they lacked standing, which likely means they failed to show they had been injured by the law (the judge's brief opinion did not go into any detail).

Plaintiffs had asked the court to suspend requirements that voters present an excuse to request an absentee ballot, have their ballot envelopes notarized, and include a photocopy of their ID along with their ballots. Additionally, they had sought 14 days of in-person early voting (Alabama currently does not offer early voting), as well as drive-through voting and other safety measures.

JULY 2020

Alabama: The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled 2-1 to uphold a lower court ruling dismissing the NAACP's challenge to Alabama Republicans' voter ID law. The two judges in the majority, who were both appointed by Republicans, ruled that "no reasonable factfinder could find that Alabama’s voter ID law is unconstitutionally discriminatory," even though Judge Darrin Gayles, an Obama appointee, noted in dissent that one white GOP lawmaker who supported passing the law said that the lack of an ID requirement was "very beneficial to the Black power structure and the rest of the Democrats."

Republicans passed this law in 2011 to require a photo voter ID in nearly all circumstances, with the only exception being if two election officials sign an affidavit that they know the voter. However, the law didn't go into effect until 2014, after the Supreme Court's conservative majority gutted a key protection of the Voting Rights Act that had required states such as Alabama with a history of discriminatory voting laws to "pre-clear" all changes to voting laws and procedures with the Justice Department before implementing them.

The plaintiffs sued in 2015 by arguing that the law violated the Voting Rights Act and Constitution and presented evidence that Black voters were less likely to possess acceptable forms of ID than white voters. That year, Republicans sparked a backlash by trying to close 31 of the state's 75 driver's licensing offices, which subsequent reporting revealed was an effort by GOP Gov. Robert Bentley, who later resigned in disgrace, to pressure his legislative opponents, but Republicans ultimately reversed course amid litigation.

Election expert Rick Hasen called this latest decision "very troubling" because it ruled unequivocally for GOP officials without letting the case proceed to trial, despite the plaintiffs' evidence of both the intent and effect of racial discrimination against Black voters. The plaintiffs could seek to request that all judges on the 11th Circuit reconsider the ruling, or they could appeal directly to the Supreme Court. However, with Republican appointees holding majorities on both courts, their chance of success appears small.

 

• Alabama: Republican Secretary of State John Merrill has issued an order allowing all voters concerned about the coronavirus to vote absentee in the state's Aug. 25 municipal elections and the November general election. Alabama requires voters to have an excuse in order to request an absentee ballot; during the pendency of the pandemic, voters may check a box when applying for a ballot that reads, "I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls." However, mail voters will still need a copy of their ID and the signatures of two witnesses or a notary.

MARCH 2020

• Alabama: Republican Gov. Kay Ivey says she opposes legislation that would remove Alabama's excuse requirement for voting absentee. Ivey said that such a move "raises the potential for voter fraud," though her office did not respond to follow-up questions as to why she thinks so. Almost three dozen states allow voters to cast ballots by mail without an excuse and none have reported any non-trivial problems with fraud as a result.

Republican Secretary of State John Merrill previously relaxed the state's excuse requirement, allowing any voter to request an absentee ballot for the state's July 14 primary runoffs by checking a box labeled "I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls" on their ballot applications. Ivey says she plans to avail herself of this option. In a recent interview, Merrill said that only "liberal extremists" are interested in expanding mail voting even though he supported a bill to eliminate the excuse requirement in 2017.

FEBRUARY 2020

 

Alabama: A federal district court has rejected an NAACP-backed lawsuit targeting Alabama's method for electing its appellate courts, ruling that the system does not discriminate against black voters.

The plaintiffs are challenging how Alabama elects judges to its state Supreme Court and intermediate appellate courts. These positions are elected on an "at-large" basis statewide, which prevents black voters from electing their chosen candidates because the state's white majority votes heavily for other candidates (i.e., white Republicans).

The plaintiffs had urged the court to strike down the current method and require the state to use districts to elect judges instead, which would have given black voters a chance to form a majority in some districts where they could elect their preferred candidates (likely black Democrats).

At-large election systems have been struck down across the country under the Voting Rights Act for diluting black and Latino voting power, but prior rulings have almost all dealt with elections for legislative bodies such as city councils. Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that the Voting Rights Act applies to judicial elections, it has rarely been used successfully to combat at-large voting schemes. Plaintiffs have said they are still considering whether to appeal.

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