Montgomery was the final stop Wednesday on a bus tour of Alabama and Mississippi aimed at keeping the 1965 Voting Rights intact. The “Never Forget, Never Again” pilgrimage for voting rights came to the Alabama State House on Wednesday to raise awareness of a pending case before the U.S. Supreme Court that could allow some states to change voting laws.
Articles about voting issues in Alabama.
The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday pushing back the voter registration period from 10 days prior to an election to 17. It now goes to the Senate. But even if the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, opponents say they will file a complaint with the Justice Department in an attempt to block it. The measure was pushed by voter registrars around the state who said they need the additional time to finalize voter lists, but it drew strong criticism from Democrats saying it was an attempt to block minority voting. “We are not helping Alabamians when we start closing doors and put obstacles in their way to vote,” said Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile.
Lawmaking proved slow-going in the Alabama House of Representatives Tuesday, as a bill that would move up the deadline to register to vote drew filibusters from black lawmakers. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Wes Long, R-Guntersville, would move the deadline to register to vote from 10 days prior to an election to 17 days prior. Registrars have supported adoption of the measure, saying they need the additional time to prepare a proper list of voters for elections and correct any mistakes that may emerge on voter registration forms. The bill passed the House in 2011 — with a window of 14 days — but did not move out of the Senate.
Black lawmakers in the House of Representatives today vowed to fight a bill that would move the deadline to register to vote in Alabama from 10 days before an election to 17 days. County registrars are seeking the change for more time to process voter rolls before elections. But African-American legislators called the bill an effort to disenfranchise and discourage voters. “This is a bill made just for suppressing the vote,” Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, said.
Alabama: Selma offers resolution keeping Section 5 part of Voting Rights Act | The Selma Times‑Journal
The Selma City Council became one of the first municipalities to publicly show their support for the continued installation of Section 5 in the Voting Rights Act when the council approved a resolution in support of the voting preclearance Tuesday. Though the resolution has no legal weight as to whether or not the city of Selma has to gain preclearance through officials in Washington D.C. when changing voting lines, polling locations or other electoral matters, the resolution shows Selma’s support of Section 5 in an official manner. “The city of Selma recognizes the fight for change and equality and understands the significance of the Voting Rights Movement and the need and support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” the resolution reads.
If the Supreme Court strikes down a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act this year, it will largely come as the result of events that began in Shelby County, Alabama, where a disputed city council election has thrown into doubt the future of a landmark law that stops state and local governments from making it hard for minorities to vote. Long-time Shelby County resident Frank Ellis is the attorney who brought the suit, which the Supreme Court will hear Wednesday. In his argument:
“The South has changed, it is not the same as it was in 1964…The whole country has changed, we are a dynamic society, not just in Alabama, but everywhere.” Indeed, one need look no further than the results of the most recent national elections for evidence of just how “dynamic” a society this is. For some reason, Chief Justice Roberts decided only a few days after the president’s re-election to revisit an issue he had ducked just three years earlier in a case which bears the imposing title, “Northwest Austin Municipal Utility District No.1 vs. Holder.”
History will repeat itself in the chambers of the Supreme Court this week. The very state where the fight for voting rights reached its critical peak nearly 50 years ago is once again at the center of the dispute over democracy in America. But oddly, the political and legal odds may now be tilting away from civil rights and back toward an era in which the federal government had limited power to protect voters of color in the South from the machinations of local leaders. The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Wednesday from an Alabama county that is challenging the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That section protects voters of color in sixteen states (some fully covered, some partially), many of which have long brutal histories of denying black Americans their voting rights. It does this by making covered jurisdictions “preclear” election law changes with the federal government before implementation.
A north Alabama lawmaker is kicking an idea around Montgomery that could dramatically change the state’s election process. Rep. Mike Ball, R-Madison, said he’s researching and gathering opinions about discontinuing most party primary runoffs. He said he wants to file a bill to do so by the end of March. “We go to the polls an awful lot in Alabama,” Ball said last week. Ball said because of runoffs, which are six weeks after the primaries, almost an entire legislative session can go by without a district seat being filled. Case in point: Former Rep. Jeremy Oden’s seat representing a portion of Morgan, Cullman and Blount counties. Oden resigned late last year when he was appointed to the state Public Service Commission. If no primary runoff is required in the special election to replace Oden, a new representative will be elected March 26. But if a primary runoff were required, the special general election won’t occur until May 7. The legislative session will end somewhere around May 20.
Alabama: 1965 Voting Rights Act: Alabama attorney general says theres no need for federal input: Arguments set for Feb. 27 in U.S. Supreme Court | The Montgomery Advertiser
Alabama’s practice of discriminating against minorities at the ballot box is a relic from a bygone era and the state no longer deserves to be punished for it, according to papers Alabama’s attorney general has filed with the Supreme Court. “Alabama has a new generation of leaders with no connection to the tragic events of 1965,” Attorney General Luther Strange wrote in a brief filed last week. “The effects of those events on voting and political representation have now, thankfully, faded away.”
A volunteer network started by Tea Party members in Texas has taken steps to verify the addresses of college students in Huntsville, prompting local Democrats to cry foul. True the Vote last month sent a fax to Oakwood University, a historically black Seventh-day Adventist college in Huntsville, to verify the addresses of more than 120 students who are registered voters. The list included names alongside dates of birth. ”I’m outraged about this,” said Clete Wetli, chairman of the Madison County Democratic party. Wetli on Friday said True the Vote is “aligned with the far right and Tea Party activists” and is using “fear and suppression” to attempt to influence elections.