Alabama post-election audit bill moves forward | Samuel Stett heimer/Alabama Political Reporter

An Alabama House committee has unanimously approved House Bill 457, known as the Alabama Post-Election Audit Act, which aims to conduct audits of general elections in each county. The bill requires county canvassing boards to manually tabulate every ballot cast in one randomly selected race after general elections conclude. The bill sponsor, Rep. Debbie Wood, expressed concerns about election integrity, citing the age and unsecured transportation of voting machines. Alabama is one of only four states that do not regularly conduct post-election audits, and the proposed legislation seeks to address this gap by involving canvassing boards in each county to ensure accurate election results. Read Article

Alabama Bill requiring mandatory ballot audits filed in House | Craig Monger/1819

Alabama State Representative Debbie Wood has sponsored House Bill 457, which requires a mandatory ballot audit after each county and statewide general election in Alabama. The bill mandates that each county’s canvassing board will conduct a post-election manual audit that includes a manual tally of all ballots in at least one randomly selected race. The selection of the race and polling location may be by drawing lots or computerized random selection to ensure that all voting locations and races are included in the selection method. According to the bill’s sponsor, the audit will ensure accountability to both candidates and voters, particularly as her race was decided by a margin of seven votes. The bill has been assigned to the House Constitution, Campaigns and Elections Committee. Read Article

Alabama House passes bill to criminalize help with absentee ballots | Mike Cason/

The Alabama House has passed a bill to make it a felony to assist another person with an absentee ballot or an absentee ballot application, with exceptions. HB209 calls for harsher penalties and no exceptions if the assistance involves a payment. The bill passed by a vote of 76-28, with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed. The vote came after the Republican majority cut off the debate after an hour. The bill moves to the Senate. Rep. Pebblin Warren, D-Tuskegee, said the bill would be a setback for efforts to assist people who need help voting. “There are so many instances now that people, good people, who want to vote, are going to be hampered,” Warren said. “And you’re going to really scare people. People are going to be scared now. Because they think that they can be charged a felony.”

Full Article: Alabama House passes bill to criminalize help with absentee ballots –

Alabama Senate approves bills requiring paper ballots, banning internet-capable voting machines | Jemma Stephenson/Chattanooga Times Free Press

The Alabama Senate approved two bills that would codify current voting practices. Senate Bill 9 and Senate Bill 10, both sponsored by Sen. Clyde Chambliss, R-Prattville, passed through the chamber. SB 9 requires the use of paper ballots in voting machines. SB 10 prevents the use of voting machines that connect to the internet. Each passed on 29-0 votes. Both measures passed Tuesday afternoon. Chambliss said after the Senate adjourned Tuesday that the bills would not affect polling places. The legislation, he said, aimed to prevent hacking and allow ballot counting when power outages take place. “What we’re trying to do is be proactive with issues that we’ve seen happen in other places and just make sure that’s not a problem here,” Chambliss said.

Full Article: Alabama Senate approves bills requiring paper ballots, banning internet-capable voting machines | Chattanooga Times Free Press

Alabama legislation introduced in 2023 session creates new rules for absentee voting, voters with disabilities | Baillee Majors/Alabama Public Radio

At least two bills up for debate in the 2023 legislative session deal with voting in the state of Alabama. Specific House bills have gained support from the ACLU of Alabama. Here’s a look at the legislation. This legislation seeks to authorize registered voters to apply for and vote using absentee ballots without an excuse. Under existing law, a registered voter in Alabama may only vote by absentee ballot if they meet one of the criteria prescribed by law for voting absentee. Currently under Alabama law, voters must declare that they will be out of town, incapacitated or otherwise unable to get to the polls in order to cast an absentee ballot. HB 95 would do away with the requirement to fit any of those criteria and allow any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse.

Full Article: Legislation introduced in Alabama’s 2023 session creates new rules for absentee voting, voters with disabilities | Alabama Public Radio

Alabama: Prefiled election bills require paper ballots, ban internet-capable voting machines | Maddie Biertempfel/WHNT

One state lawmaker is working to codify some of Alabama’s election rules into law. The first election-related bill from Sen. Clyde Chambliss (R- Prattville) would require paper ballots for all elections. The second prohibits any vote county machines from connecting to the internet. The current administrative code already has those rules in place. Chambliss said these bills would cement them into law. “If there is a problem, say a lightning strike or computer failure or something like that, we always have a paper trail to go back and to make sure that we have the count exactly right,” Chambliss said. New Secretary of State Wes Allen supports the proposals. He said even though Alabama has secure elections, strengthening the current rules is important to voters.

Full Article: Prefiled election bills require paper ballots, ban internet-capable voting machines

Alabama voting machines challenged as unreliable in court hearing | Mike Cason/

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Greg Griffin is holding a hearing today on a lawsuit that seeks to block Alabama’s use of electronic ballot-counting machines in the November election. Plaintiffs in the case claim the machines are unreliable and susceptible to hacking and tampering that can change election results. They have asked the court to order the state to count ballots by hand through a process outlined in their lawsuit. Attorney General Steve Marshall has asked the court to dismiss the case, saying the claims are based on speculation and innuendo. The lawsuit was filed in May by former gubernatorial candidate Lindy Blanchard, state Rep. Tommy Hanes, a Republican from Jackson County, Dr. David Calderwood of Madison County, and Focus on America, a social welfare organization. Blanchard, who finished second to Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary, withdrew from the lawsuit. Dean Odle, another Republican candidate for governor in this year’s primary, attended this morning’s hearing and said he supports the plaintiffs in the case.

Full Article: Alabama voting machines challenged as unreliable in court hearing –

Alabama Secretary of State responds to lawsuit seeking to prohibit use of electronic voting machines | Jacob Holmes/Alabama Political Reporter

Secretary of State John Merrill is once again defending the state’s use of electronic voting machines in response to a lawsuit seeking to bar them from being used in the upcoming general election. The lawsuit was filed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Lindy Blanchard, who was defeated in the primary last week by incumbent Gov. Kay Ivey, and Rep. Tommy Hanes, R-Scottsboro, against Merrill and five members of the state’s Electronic Voting Committee. Merrill said the electronic tabulators are not susceptible to being manipulated. “We’ve never had a negative incident or occurrence related to the use of electronic voting equipment,” Merrill said. “No vulnerabilities have ever been exposed or introduced at any level and I’m confident that will remain the standard. If I was not confident, we would be addressing that.” The lawsuit seeks to prohibit the use of the tabulators in the general election and force the state to use paper ballots and hand counting. It would require three individuals to count the ballots, while being recorded by camera. The lawsuit claims machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software, the provider of all Alabama machines, can be connected to the internet, but Merrill said that is not the case in Alabama.

Full Article: Merrill responds to lawsuit seeking to prohibit use of electronic voting machines

Alabama: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell again questions election: Secretary of State says state ‘didn’t have any issues’ | William Thornton/

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Friday once again swatted away suggestions by MyPillow founder and CEO Mike Lindell that hundreds of thousands of votes were flipped from Donald Trump to Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election in Alabama. “The thing we have maintained is that we didn’t have any issues, any irregularities, any inconsistences, any probing, any concerns that was introduced at any level to us,” Merrill said by telephone Friday. Last month, Lindell said in a video that while Alabama is a “role model as to how elections should go,” its voting system was “hacked…just like every other state,” possibly by accessing machines remotely through Bluetooth technology. Lindell did not offer any evidence of his claims in the video or provide details on who he thought was involved. He said at that time that 100,000 votes were changed in the state and “every single county was affected.” Donald Trump garnered 1.4 million votes in Alabama, compared to more than 849,000 for Joe Biden last November. At that time, Merrill said what Lindell was alleging was not possible.

Full Article: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell again questions Alabama election: John Merrill says state ‘didn’t have any issues’ –

Alabama Secretary of State disputes MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s claims state had 100,000 ‘flipped’ votes | Leada Gore/

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is disputing claims cybercriminals “flipped” 100,000 votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The claims came from Mike Lindell, the founder of MyPillow and an adviser to former president Trump. Lindell has been touring states in an effort to prove the election was stolen from Trump via computer manipulation. He visited Merrill and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey last week, saying he planned to run “tests” on the state’s voter rolls. In a video posted online Sunday, Lindell said while Alabama is a “role model as to how elections should go,” its voting system was “hacked…just like every other state,” possibly by accessing machines remotely through Bluetooth technology. Lindell did not offer any evidence of his claims in the video or provide details on who he thought was involved. “This was the one time we’re going to have to do a little bit of a deeper dive here. On the surface you can’t see where it happened,” Lindsell said. “What I guarantee they’ve had to do in Alabama is the bad people…went deeper into the well. Very deep into the well of how they did the flips.” Lindell’s data said 100,000 votes were changed in the state and “every single county was affected.” Merrill said that’s not possible. “All our (voting) machines are custom-built. There’s no modem component. You can’t influence them through a cell phone or a landline. There’s no way they can be probed or numbers manipulated,” Merrill told

Full Article: Secretary of State disputes MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell’s claims Alabama had 100,000 ‘flipped’ votes –

Alabama: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell to run ‘tests’ on voter list after meeting Merrill, Ivey – Howard Koplowitz/

MyPillow founder and Donald Trump adviser Mike Lindell plans to conduct “tests” on Alabama’s voter rolls after purchasing the list, said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who along with Gov. Kay Ivey met with Lindell on Friday. Lindell, the founder and CEO of MyPillow who is Trump’s main attack dog in the former president’s battle contending the 2020 presidential election was stolen, is going to comb through the list of Alabama voters to determine whether the state has any ineligible people on it, including deceased residents. Merrill said he doesn’t expect Lindell to find evidence that Alabama’s voter list, which is available for purchase by anyone, is tainted. “We know we don’t put people on the voter rolls unless they’re qualified to be on the voter rolls,” the secretary of state told Lindell, who set up the meeting with Merrill after attending Trump’s “Save America” rally in Cullman in late August, heaped praise on Alabama’s election procedures, ranging from the state’s voter ID law to how votes are tabulated in the state, according to Merrill. But Lindell “still believes there’s a potential to hack some equipment, even though we assured him none of our equipment is connected to the Internet,” the secretary of state said.

Full Article: MyPillow’s Mike Lindell to run ‘tests’ on Alabama voter list after meeting Merrill, Ivey –

Alabama: COVID-19, curbside voting ban exacerbate difficulties for voters with disabilities like me | Dr. Eric Peebles/

I believe voting is the most sacred of all civic responsibilities. Because I have spastic cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects coordination and control of motor function, I require assistance to help me fill out ballots. But I am determined to exercise my fundamental right to vote in person whenever I can. This has been a lifelong endeavor. In the mid-1980s, my local public school tried to bar me from attending because of my disability and wheelchair use. School officials even said I was a danger to other students because of my power wheelchair. My mother refused to accept this discrimination and lobbied local leaders on my behalf. After two years of advocacy, my school district was put under federal supervision, and I was allowed to attend a public school. I registered to vote after I turned 18, and I have tried to vote in every election since. I’ve long embraced the words spoken by one of the fathers of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Justin Dart, who once told a gathering I attended: “Get into empowerment. Get into politics as if your life depended upon it. It does.” My condition puts me at high risk for contracting and suffering severe complications, including death, from COVID-19. So as the 2020 elections neared, I felt compelled to protect my right to vote safely.

Full Article: COVID-19, curbside voting ban in Alabama exacerbate difficulties for voters with disabilities like me –

Alabama: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa | Lee Roop/

An attorney for U.S. Sen. Doug Jones says Tuscaloosa County election officials have been “suppressing qualified Tuscaloosa voters” from voting absentee this year by forcing them to stand in stalled lines for absentee ballots and mailing ballots out too late to be returned by mail. Jones’ campaign attorney Adam Plant mailed a letter to Tuscaloosa County Circuit Clerk Magaria Bobo Oct. 28 saying she was suppressing voters. Two attempts to reach Bobo for comment Friday were not successful. “The volume of absentee voters in Tuscaloosa County was absolutely foreseeable and you did not take adequate steps to allow these voters to cast their ballots,” Plant’s letter said. “You are forcing qualified voters to miss school, work and other parts of their life standing in a line at the courthouse you are in charge of processing.” “Hundreds if not thousands of voters” in Tuscaloosa County have not received the absentee ballots they requested for Tuesday’s presidential election in time to mail them back before the deadline, an Alabama Democratic Party official said Sunday.But a spokeswoman for Alabama’s top election official, Secretary of State John Merrill, said Sunday that Tuscaloosa County voting officials have told him “they are caught up on everything.”

Full Article: Attorney for Democrats: Hundreds of voters ‘disenfranchised’ in Tuscaloosa –

Alabama: Some absentee ballots could be invalidated by timing of court ruling | Mike Cason/

Rulings in a federal lawsuit over absentee voting laws in Alabama just weeks before the election could result in some absentee ballots not counting, depending on when voters sent them in. Under Alabama law, absentee ballots have to be witnessed by two adults or a notary to be counted. The lawsuit, filed by several organizations and individual voters last summer, contended that enforcing that requirement on voters at high risk of serious illness from COVID-19 because of age or medical condition violated their federal voting rights during the pandemic. The lawsuit also challenged other provisions, including a photo ID requirement and the state’s ban on curbside voting. On Sept. 30, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon ruled in favor of the organizations and individuals who filed the lawsuit. His ruling blocked the state from enforcing the witness requirement for voters who signed a statement saying they had a medical condition that put them at heightened risk from the virus. But on Oct. 13, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the request of state officials and issued a stay blocking part of Kallon’s order, a decision that put the witness requirement back in force.

Full Article: Some Alabama absentee ballots could be invalidated by timing of court ruling –

Alabama: Supreme Court Conservatives Agree With Alabama Conservatives: Voting Should Be Dangerous and Difficult, as the Founding Fathers Intended | Elliot Hannon/Slate

In an unsurprising twist, the state of Alabama has moved to make it harder to vote in next month’s election by prohibiting curbside voting. On Wednesday, the conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court unsurprisingly agreed that forcing at-risk voters into the polling booth during a pandemic was how the Founding Fathers would have wanted it—you know, original intent and all. The Supreme Court’s conservatives ruled 5 to 3 on an emergency application to block a lower court decision that said counties in the state could offer curbside voting if they wanted to. The court sided with Alabama’s Republican secretary of state, John Merrill, who barred counties from allowing a form of contactless curbside voting that is being allowed in various forms across the country, including notoriously vote-suppressing states like Texas. “Some level of risk is inherent in life and in voting, pandemic or no,” Merrill argued.

Alabama law does not weigh in on curbside voting, and it’s a practice that some counties in the state have used in the past. When Merrill decided, at the height of the pandemic, to prohibit the practice of essentially dropping off your vote with an election worker, rather than waiting in line and doing the same act inside a fire station or elementary school, several Alabamians sued on the grounds that the prohibition violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not providing a reasonable accommodation for vulnerable voters. Those voters are primarily elderly residents and those with health conditions that make them high-risk if they contract the coronavirus. Last month, a federal court agreed that a curbside accommodation—that was optional, not required—was reasonable.

Alabama: US Supreme Court Bars Curbside Voting in Alabama | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a trial judge’s ruling that would have allowed, but not required, counties in Alabama to offer curbside voting.The vote was 5 to 3, with the court’s more conservative members in the majority.The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when it rules on emergency applications, and it said the order would remain in effect while appeals moved forward.In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan, said the state’s policy discriminated against older and disabled voters.“If those vulnerable voters wish to vote in person,” Justice Sotomayor wrote, “they must wait inside, for as long as it takes, in a crowd of fellow voters whom Alabama does not require to wear face coverings,” referring to masks that help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

Alabama: 17 attorneys general oppose curbside voting ban in Supreme Court | Mike Cason/

Attorneys general for the District of Columbia and 16 states have filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court opposing Alabama’s effort to preserve a statewide ban on curbside voting.The AGs said many of the states that joined in the brief have experience with curbside voting and policies that leave decisions on curbside voting to local officials. “Through that experience, states have learned that curbside voting is safe, relatively easy to implement, and not associated with voter fraud,” the brief says. “Moreover, curbside voting is particularly beneficial for vulnerable citizens and those with mobility challenges, including those with disabilities. Especially in the context of the novel coronavirus, it furthers states’ interests to allow counties—within reason, and consistent with the law—to implement common-sense measures like curbside voting meant to safeguard both the franchise and public health.”

Alabama Secretary of State announces electronic poll books in 63 of 67 counties | Alabama Political Reporter

head of the Nov. 3, 2020, general election, Secretary of State John Merrill’s office said that electronic poll books will be utilized in 63 of Alabama’s 67 counties.In recent years, Alabama has made progress in updating outdated systems and replacing old equipment with the most up-to-date technology, installed with full security measures. Notably, in 2019, the Secretary of State’s office replaced the computers used by local election officials in all 67 counties at no cost at all to the county or state through the use of Help America Vote Act funds.The electronic poll books provided for 63 of Alabama’s counties will be used to increase the security, speed and efficiency of the check-in process for voters.

Alabama: Want to vote absentee in Alabama? COVID-19 will be reason enough through end of year | Brian Lyman/Montgomery Advertiser

Voters concerned about the COVID-19 outbreak will be able to vote absentee in the Aug. 25 municipal elections and the November general election. The move does not affect any other of Alabama’s strict absentee voting requirements, but could significantly expand the number of people eligible to vote before Election Day. It comes after six weeks of rising coronavirus caseloads and a statewide mask order aimed at controlling the outbreak. “Amid coronavirus concerns, it is important to remember that Alabamians who are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness have the opportunity to avoid the polls on Election Day by casting an absentee ballot,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a statement. The Secretary of State’s office said voters with COVID-19 concerns can mark a box citing a physical illness or infirmity preventing them from going to the polls when they apply for an absentee ballot. Voters could do the same in the July 14th runoff election. Rep. Tashina Morris, D-Montgomery, one of several Democratic legislators who has pushed for more voting options amid the pandemic, called the decision “a great move,” but said there needed to be additional voting options in the state.

Alabama: ACLU joins lawsuit over Alabama voting amid COVID-19 pandemic | Eddie Burkhalter/Alabama Political Reporter

The American Civil Liberties Union and its Alabama chapter have joined in a lawsuit attempting to make it easier for some voters to cast their ballot during the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Alabama joined in the lawsuit filed in May by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program against Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill. The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision last week blocked U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s order that would have allowed curbside voting statewide and waived certain absentee ballot requirements for voters in at least Jefferson, Mobile and Lee Counties. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of several voters who are at greater risk from complications or death due to COVID-19.

Alabama: Splitting 5-4, Supreme Court Grants Alabama’s Request to Restore Voting Restrictions | Adam Liptak/The New York Times

By a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court on Thursday blocked a trial judge’s order that would have made it easier for voters in three Alabama counties to use absentee ballots in this month’s primary runoff election. The court’s brief, unsigned order gave no reasons, which is typical when it rules on emergency applications, and it said the order would remain in effect while appeals moved forward. The court’s four more liberal members — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan — said they would have rejected Alabama’s request. In March, Gov. Kay Ivey, a Republican, postponed the election in light of the coronavirus pandemic. At the same time, the official who oversees the state’s elections, John H. Merrill, Alabama’s secretary of state, a Republican, expanded the availability of absentee ballots to all voters who concluded that it was “impossible or unreasonable to vote at their voting place.” But Mr. Merrill did not relax two of the usual requirements for absentee voting: submission of a copy of a photo ID with a voter’s application for a ballot and submission of an affidavit signed by a notary public or two adult witnesses with the ballot itself.

Alabama: State asks U.S. Supreme Court to block curbside voting ruling | Mike Cason/

Alabama has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a federal judge’s order that the state cannot prohibit counties from offering curbside voting during the July 14 runoff. Plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the state argued that counties should be able to offer curbside voting to accommodate voters who are concerned about exposure to COVID-19. The state argues that if federal courts order the state to allow curbside voting they are effectively changing state law for an election that’s just two weeks away. Alabama Solicitor General Edmund LaCour of the state attorney general’s office filed the emergency application for stay on Monday with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. LaCour asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court ruling in favor of four voters and three organizations who claimed that certain Alabama laws violated the rights of some voters who are at serious risk of illness from the virus.

Alabama: Secretary of State asks Supreme Court to review COVID-19 election ruling | Todd Ruger/Roll Call

Alabama officials asked the Supreme Court to step into the debate over how to conduct election laws in the midst of a national health crisis, in a legal dispute over absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s largest counties. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill filed an application to the high court Monday to overturn a lower court’s injunction that found that the requirements could violate the constitutional right to vote for some elderly and disabled voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Merrill points out that federal district and appeals courts nationwide are dealing with similar requests to change state election laws because of the health concerns — and ruling in different ways. Voters across the country have looked to cast ballots without the risk of going to public polling places and possibly exposing themselves to the novel coronavirus that causes some severe illness and death. “This confusion in the lower courts will not end without firm guidance from this Court,” the application states. “And as election dates draw nearer, culminating in the 2020 presidential election on November 3, these challenges to the constitutionality of election practices during the COVID-19 pandemic will only increase.”

Alabama: Federal appeals court won’t block ruling allowing curbside voting in Alabama | Brian Lyman/Montgomery Advertiser

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday refused to stop a lower court ruling that allowed curbside voting and loosened some absentee voter requirements in three counties for the July 14th runoff. Writing for the court, U.S. Circuit judges Robin Rosenbaum and Jill Pryor ruled that the state had failed to prove that the plaintiffs in the cae who argued that current policies put them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 would lose in court. The judges also accused the state of minimizing the potential harms from the outbreak. “Appellants’ (the state) failure to acknowledge the significant difference between leaving one’s home to vote in non-pandemic times and forcing high-risk COVID-19 individuals to breach social-distancing and self-isolation protocols so they can vote reflects a serious lack of understanding of or disregard for the science and facts involved here,” the judges wrote. A message seeking comment was sent Thursday to the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. Natasha Merle, senior counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of three groups representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement Thursday they hoped to see curbside voting in Alabama “in July and beyond.”

Alabama: Attorney General seeks to block federal judge’s order allowing curbside voting, relaxing absentee ballot rules | Kent Faulk/

Alabama has asked a federal appeals court for an emergency stay of a federal judge’s order that allows local officials to offer curbside voting during the COVID-19 pandemic and relaxes restrictions on absentee ballots in three counties for the July 14 runoff election. U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon ruled Monday night in favor of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit who claim several Alabama voting restrictions violate their voting rights because of hardships and risks created by the coronavirus pandemic. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office filed a notice of appeal to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday and on Wednesday asked that court in an emergency motion to block implementation of Kallon’s order while they appeal. Kallon ruled that the potential health risks to older and medically vulnerable voters in going to the polls, or getting absentee ballots witnessed or notarized, merited the changes.

Alabama: Judge allows curbside voting in Alabama; loosens absentee ballot requirements in 3 counties | Brian Lyman/Montgomery Advertiser

A federal judge loosened absentee voting requirements in a handful of Alabama counties and allowed counties to set up curbside voting ahead of the July 14 runoff election. In a 77-page ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon suspended a witness requirement for absentee ballots cast in Jefferson, Mobile, and Lee counties; suspended a photo ID requirement for voters aged 65 or older or with a disability for absentee voting in those counties, and allowed counties that want to set up curbside voting as a way of protecting voters from the outbreak from doing so. The Southern Poverty Law Center; the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the Alabama Disability Advocacy Program filed suit on May 1 on behalf of several plaintiffs with health issues who said existing absentee voting requirements put them at risk of contracting COVID-19 and amounted to an unconstitutional burden on their right to vote.

Alabama: Secretary of State: Direct mail voting would be costly, problematic | Ed Howell/Daily Mountain Eagle

Secretary of State John Merrill said direct mail voting as some states now do would cost an extra $41 million and would invite problems making sure voters were eligible.  In a phone interview Friday, Merrill also talked about efforts to keep polling sites clean due to COVID-19 during the July 14 runoff primary and how easy it would be to get an absentee ballot because of the cornonavirus. As of today – Tuesday, June 9 – the  state is now officially a month away from the July 9 deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for the runoff, which was delayed from March due to the COVID-19 virus. Merrill pointed out the last day to register to vote for the runoff is June 29. The deadline for returning the ballot in person and the last day to postmark a ballot are both July 13.  Under the state of emergency for the COVID pandemic, Merrill is encouraging voters concerned about catching the virus at the polls to check the box which reads, “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]”

Alabama: Largest cities pressure lawmakers on ‘no-excuse’ absentee voting | John Sharp/

Three of Alabama’s largest cities are poised to adopt resolutions arguing in favor of no-excuse absentee voting even as the state marches toward this year’s elections with the excuse provision in place. Mobile could join Birmingham and Huntsville on Tuesday in supporting similarly-worded resolutions that supports an option for residents to vote absentee during the coronavirus pandemic without having to submit an excuse as to why they are not showing up physically at the polls on Election Day. “What we want to do is ensure that those who have underlying health conditions and those who are of the senior population are not fearful of engaging in the democratic process,” said Mobile City Council President Levon Manzie. The timing of the resolutions is likely not going to matter during this year’s elections, and the Alabama Republican Party says they “lack teeth.” The runoff contests are scheduled for July 14, followed by the general election on Nov. 3. A majority of Alabama cities are also scheduled to have mayoral and council elections on Aug. 25. The Alabama Legislature is not scheduled to meet until the spring of 2021.

Alabama: League of Women Voters of Alabama sue over voting amid COVID-19 pandemic | Eddie Burkhalter/Alabama Political Reporter

The League of Women Voters of Alabama on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kay Ivey, Secretary of State John Merrill and several Montgomery County election officials asking the court to expand Alabama’s absentee voting and relax other voting measures amid the COVID-19 outbreak. The nonprofit is joined in the suit by 10 plaintiffs who range in age from 60 to 75, many of whom have medical conditions that put them at greater risk for serious complications or death from COVID-19. “Voting is a right, not a privilege, and elections must be safe, accessible, and fairly administered,” the League of Women Voters of Alabama said in a press release Thursday. “Alabama’s Constitution specifically requires that the right to vote be protected in times of ‘tumult,’ clearly including the current pandemic.” Currently, to vote absentee in Alabama, a person must send a copy of their photo ID and have their ballot signed by a notary or two adults. The lawsuit asks the court to require state officials to use emergency powers to waive the notary or witness requirement, the requirement to supply a copy of a photo ID and to extend no-excuse absentee voting into the fall.

Alabama: Push for no-excuse absentee voting going nowhere | Sara Macneil/Alabama Daily News

The Alabama Senate approved Tuesday a resolution that says it’s “imperative to the democratic process to propose and adopt” no-excuse absentee voting, but the passage of actual legislation to loosen restrictions on the ballots seems unlikely in the GOP-controlled body. Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, filed a bill Monday that would authorize no-excuse absentee voting. Smitherman’s Senate Bill 335 strikes out the list of excuses that qualify a voter for an absentee ballot, and deletes a section of state law that says they must have one of those excuses to apply for an absentee ballot. Alabamians go to the polls July 14 for primary runoffs. The election date was delayed in March because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak. Smitherman this week said he needs to rush the no excuse voting bill into committee during the shortened session, so he had no time to consult with his Republican colleagues. His bill was assigned to the Governmental Affairs Committee, which has no meetings scheduled this week.