Walker County is one of seven counties in the state with election tabulation machines that are not even manufactured anymore, leaving county officials agreeing that they will have to be replaced soon. Walker County Probate Judge A. Lee Tucker said Thursday that it looks like the machines, which accept paper ballots during elections, cannot be replaced in time for the 2020 elections. However, he said that the machines are tested and currently work. Currently the county has 45 precincts, not counting absentee and provisional ballots. Machines will have to be replaced in all those election sites, plus provisions made for machines to help the disabled. A total of 76 M100 machines and another 45 machines for the disabled are currently used in Walker County, he said. Tucker said some precincts use more than one machine, and extras are also needed sometimes when a machine breaks down. The reactions come after a national election security report, “Defending Elections,” was published last week by the Brennan Center for Justice noting states need more federal funding to prevent outside cyber threats against elections.Full Article: County voting machines now outdated | Daily Mountain Eagle.
Articles about voting issues in Alabama.
A report published Thursday on election security says states need more federal money to safeguard elections from outside threats. It says Alabama election officials cited a need to replace voting machines used in most counties that are more than a decade old and to establish a “cyber navigator program” to help local officials protect their systems. “Defending Elections: Federal Funding Needs for State Election Security,” attached at the end of this article, outlines how Alabama and five other states are using their shares of $380 million Congress provided to states for election security last year. Alabama’s allocation was $6.5 million, including the required 5 percent state match. The report was written by the Brennan Center for Justice; R Street; Pitt Cyber, the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security; and the Alliance for Securing Democracy. The report said Russian hackers penetrated computer networks in two counties in Florida in 2016 by obtaining information from a software vendor. A gap opened by the same vendor might have allowed hackers to tamper with voter rolls in North Carolina, the report says. “Efforts like these undermine faith in our democratic system, and steps must be taken to prevent them from occurring again,” the report says.Full Article: Report says aging voting machines a concern in Alabama - al.com.
With looming fears of foreign interference in last year’s midterm elections, Congress rushed to send almost $6.2 million to help Alabama secure its voting system. But the state did not spend a dime of it, according to a report this month from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, which disbursed the funds. The money came from the so-called omnibus spending bill approved in March 2018. But Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said the money did not come in time to spend before the November midterm election. In order to spend federal grant money, he told FOX10 News, the state has to going through a competitive bidding process and get companies on an approved vendor list, among other requirements. “That’s an arduous process, at best,” he said. “We’re not gonna get in a hurry because someone thinks we should be in a hurry to spend it.”Full Article: Alabama failed to spend federal grants for election security | News | fox10tv.com.
Long lines, voting machine malfunctions, and untrained poll workers scattered throughout the state. Alabama, on November 6, had its share of Election Day problems similar to what other states experienced. Georgia and Florida had reportedly lines that lasted as long as waiting to get on a ride at Six Flags, according to media reports. Cries about voter “suppression” or “fraud” in each state — depending on a critic’s partisan leanings — have erupted ever since Election Day. “Elections are an incredibly complicated process and there are so many moving parts for it all to go right on Election Day,” said Richard Fording, a political science professor at the University of Alabama. “There will inevitably be mistakes made.” But almost as common as election-related snafus are the subsequent calls for reform. And in Alabama, there will be a push in 2019 for legislation to address some of the problems experienced on November 6.Full Article: After Midterms, will Alabama reform the way you vote? | al.com.
Attorneys representing black students at Alabama A&M University filed a federal lawsuit Friday asking that the students’ votes in this week’s mid-term election be counted. As evidence, the lawsuit includes screen shots of the Alabama Secretary of State’s website showing the four students filing the lawsuit as ineligible the day of the election and eligible two days later. Secretary of State John Merrill is the state’s chief election officer responsible for the balloting, and the lawsuit names him and Madison County Board of Registrars Chairman Linda Hairston as defendants. It was filed in federal court in Huntsville Friday by the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund. Hairston and Merrill declined comment early Friday afternoon.Full Article: Lawsuit demands black student votes be counted in Alabama | al.com.
Since John Merrill took office as secretary of state, Alabama has purged 658,000 voters from its rolls, Merrill said Monday. Most of those voters are dead, convicted of felonies or moved out of state, Merrill says. But one Democratic candidate for Congress says the number of purged voters is far higher than it should be. “We’re not going to take this lying down,” said Jacob Ray, campaign manager for Mallory Hagan. Hagan is running as a Democrat for Alabama’s 3rd District seat in Congress, now held by U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks. Last week, Hagan announced the creation of a “voter protection committee,” saying that 55,000 voters in the district had been disqualified or labeled inactive since February 2017.Full Article: Purge of voter rolls creates stir in Alabama congressional race | News | annistonstar.com.
Attorneys representing a state NAACP chapter asked the 11th Circuit on Friday to throw out a district court ruling which dismissed their challenge to Alabama’s voter ID law without a trial. The Alabama NAACP, joined by Interfaith group Greater Birmingham Ministries and three individual voters, claims that the state’s photo voter identification law was specifically crafted by lawmakers to discriminate against thousands of black and Latino voters. In January, U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler ruled that the 2011 law, which requires absentee and in-person voters to show photo ID in order to cast a ballot, is constitutional.Full Article: 11th Circuit Hears NAACP Challenge to Alabama Voter ID Law.
State Rep. John Knight, D-Montgomery, got a surprise when he went to vote in the Democratic runoff at Alabama State University today. Knight, who is in a runoff with Sen. David Burkette for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 26, was told he could not vote in the Democratic runoff because he had voted in the Republican primary on June 5. “Which is crazy,” Knight said. “I was a candidate.” Knight said the chief inspector at the ASU polling place said other voters had experienced the same mixup.Full Article: Democratic Rep. John Knight handed GOP ballot, says voter list wrong | AL.com.
Five years after the Supreme Court invalidated the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that certain states get federal approval to change their election laws, there are few places where the results are clearer than in Alabama, where the lawsuit began. Alabama has enacted a slew of restrictive laws and policies, many of whichdisproportionately affect African-Americans, Latinos and other marginalized groups. In this, it stands out only in degree, not in kind: All over the country, state legislators are making it harder to vote. State officials say the voting measures are intended to prevent election fraud. Here is the landscape of voting rights five years after the lawsuit, Shelby County v. Holder, through the lens of the state that started it. Within 24 hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Alabama announced that in 2014, it would start requiring photo identification to vote under a law passed in 2011 but stymied by the Voting Rights Act. The number of states with similar laws has since ballooned.Full Article: Seven Ways Alabama Has Made It Harder to Vote - The New York Times.
Alabama thrust itself into an intense partisan confrontation last month when it filed a lawsuit opposing the counting of undocumented immigrants for congressional reapportionment purposes in the 2020 U.S. Census. Critics believe Alabama, much like the federal government through its decision to back a citizenship question on the 2020 forms, is aiming to “weaponize” the program for political gain. But backers of the lawsuit filed by Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, argue that the state is testing legal waters in an attempt to salvage one of the state’s seven congressional seats and one of its nine electoral votes.Full Article: Alabama lawsuit at forefront of Census battle - News - Gadsden Times - Gadsden, AL.
Secretary of State John Merrill said Thursday his office is doing all it can to respond to voter ID requests. But they don’t know the scope of the need in the state. The Secretary of State’s Office does not have estimates of the needs for voter ID cards among the more than 3 million registered voters in Alabama, and Merrill said Thursday they do not plan to. “We don’t want to expend our energies and resources in trying to identify that need when we’re trying to meet it each and every day,” he said.Full Article: Secretary of State's office: No estimate of Alabama voter ID need.
If the time is short, leave the seat empty. The House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee on Wednesday approved a constitutional amendment that would end special elections for legislative vacancies that take place 13 months before the next statewide general election. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rusty Glover, R-Semmes, got altered before passing the Senate last week. The proposal at first would have allowed the governor to appoint legislators to vacancies if there were less than two years remaining in the term. But Glover said that idea — which would expand the chief executive’s powers in a state government weighted toward the Legislature — faced a struggle.Full Article: Some special elections would end under proposed amendment.
Alabama: Thousands march across Edmund Pettus Bridge to pay homage to Bloody Sunday | The Selma Times‑Journal
Thousands of people marched across the Edmund Pettus Bridge Sunday afternoon to commemorate the 53rd anniversary of Bloody Sunday — a day where marchers were beaten, tear gassed and trampled while fighting for the right to vote on March 7, 1965. Sunday’s march marked the end of the 25th annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee, which started Thursday. Marchers came from across the country to walk across the same bridge as the foot soldiers of the voting rights movement, who helped change history. Vivianna Rodriguez came from Mobile, and this was her second time marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Her first time was when President Barack Obama came to Selma in 2015 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.Full Article: Thousands march across Edmund Pettus Bridge to pay homage to Bloody Sunday | The Selma Times‑Journal.
Call it a political paradise if you live in certain places in Alabama and don’t miss an opportunity to cast a vote. The practicality of it all, however, remains questionable. Simply put, there are three special election cycles ongoing right now to fill vacancies in the Alabama legislature. But the winners of those races will not be elected until after the ongoing legislative session ends. And unless they are re-elected in the state’s regular 2018 election cycle, which begins with the June 5 Democratic and Republican primaries, they will leave office without ever casting a single vote as a state lawmaker. “There’s no logic to it but it doesn’t have anything to do with logic,” said John Merrill, the state’s top elections official as Secretary of State.Full Article: 'No logic' to Alabama's special elections, which may be outlawed anyway | AL.com.
Civil rights groups are again challenging a federal judge’s ruling that an Alabama law requiring a government-issued photo ID for voting is not discriminatory. Legal counsel for the Alabama NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries and minority voters filed an appeal in the U.S. district court in northern Alabama on Wednesday. Since 2014, Alabama has required voters to show government-issued photo identification when they vote. The civil rights groups sued over the law in 2015, calling it discriminatory and an infringement on voting rights. They contended Alabama politicians knew when they enacted it that black and Latino voters “disproportionately lack the required photo ID.”Full Article: Civil Rights Groups Appeal Alabama Voter ID Ruling | Alabama News | US News.
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.Full Article: Alabama Legislature pitches election reform measures following Senate election stunner | AL.com.
Three transgender people sued an Alabama state agency on Tuesday, alleging its policy requiring proof of gender surgery to change the gender indicator on driver’s licenses was discriminatory. The lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union said the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s policy denied transgender people access to identification, and applicants were forced to release medical information to get driver’s licenses. “Anyone who is eligible for a license should be able to get one that they can use without sacrificing their privacy, safety, health, autonomy or dignity,” ACLU lawyer Gabriel Arkles said on a conference call with reporters.Full Article: Transgender people sue Alabama over driver's license policy.
A bill to eliminate special elections when there are vacancies in the U.S. Senate is in position for a vote in the Alabama House of Representatives next week. It comes in the wake of last year’s bruising battle to fill the seat Jeff Sessions left to become attorney general, won by Democrat Doug Jones. House Ways and Means General Fund Committee Chairman Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said his bill to eliminate Senate special elections “has nothing to do with the personalities in last year’s election. It has everything to do with the cost to the General Fund.” Clouse said $11 million has been allocated to cover the cost of the three rounds of the special election to fill Sessions’ seat.Full Article: Bill to eliminate Alabama Senate special elections advances | AL.com.
Advocacy groups are appealing a federal judge’s dismissal of a lawsuit challenging Alabama’ voter ID law. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler on Wednesday ruled in favor of the state, saying the provision does not discriminate against minorities and is not an undue infringement on the right to vote since the state makes free IDs available for voting purposes. “In Alabama, the law has no discriminatory impact because it does not prevent anyone from voting, not when free IDs are issued in every county, or at home, under conditions that any registered voter can meet,” Coogler wrote.Full Article: Groups appeal dismissal of Alabama voter ID challenge | News | phillytrib.com.
Alabama: NAACP Legal Defense Fund ‘disappointed,’ appealing judge’s dismissal of Alabama voter ID lawsuit | AL.com
Officials with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund on Friday filed a notice in court saying they are appealing Wednesday’s dismissal of the group’s lawsuit challenging Alabama’s voter ID laws. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler ordered the lawsuit filed by Greater Birmingham Ministries, Alabama NAACP and individual plaintiffs against the State of Alabama be dismissed. “We are deeply disappointed by the judge’s ruling dismissing our case before trial,” said LDF President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill. “Over the course of two years, we have developed a sound case demonstrating that Alabama’s voter ID law is racially discriminatory. We had hoped to present our full case at trial next month.” The group filed the notice of appeal on Friday.Full Article: NAACP Legal Defense Fund 'disappointed,' appealing judge's dismissal of Alabama voter ID lawsuit | AL.com.