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.
Articles about voting issues in Alabama.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.