Alabama lawmakers are pitching nearly two dozen pieces of legislation to retool the state’s elections process. The effort arrives ahead of a 2018 election that will see all of the state’s constitutional offices and legislative seats on the ballot. It also follows one of the major political upsets of modern era when Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in December’s special U.S. Senate contest. The most notable of the changes would eliminate future special U.S. Senate elections like the one that Jones won. Proponents say that this will save the state millions of dollars; opponents say it will subvert the democratic process. A floor fight could occur in the Alabama Senate next week.
Other pieces of election-related legislation involve: revisions to absentee balloting, clarifications on recounts, specifications on when write-ins can be tabulated, updates to inactive-voter lists, and provisions for requesting open primaries. Also, one bill would impose term limits in the Legislature, in another would raise the eligible age of judicial candidates to 75.
“You only tend to get interest with reforming the election code and the process of elections if you have a scandal or some development that adversely affects the majority party,” said Jess Brown, a retired political science professor at Athens State University. “We’ve now had both: scandals related to campaign finance and a surprise election.”