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