Alabama: One of last vestiges of gutted immigration law, Alabama pushes voters for citizenship proof |

One of Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett’s last acts will be to try to implement one of the last provisions of the state’s controversial immigration law that has not already been resolved – a requirement that voters show proof of citizenship to register. Under that provision of the 2011 law, known as HB 56, people must show a driver’s license or some other valid form of identification in order to register to vote. But the state never implemented it while lawyers fought over the legality of the law’s broader measures, which sought to crack down on illegal immigration. The federal courts invalidated most of that law, and the state last year reached a permanent settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, agreeing to permanently black enforcement of seven provisions. Bennett announced last week, though, that the state will press ahead with the citizenship requirement now that the U.S. Senate has confirmed nominees to fill long-vacant seats on the Election Assistance Commission. That is the organization that must agree to change the federal voter registration form to comply with the state requirements.

Alabama: Photo voter ID law declared a success; not everyone agrees |

Secretary of State Jim Bennett said today that Alabama’s new photo voter ID law caused only a few inquiries to his office during the Nov. 4 election. The general election was the biggest test yet of the law, with 1.2 million people voting. It was in effect for the first time during the primaries in June. “We feel very good about the results of the implementation of that program,” Bennett said. The Republican-led Legislature passed the law in 2011, saying it would help prevent voter fraud. Voters were already required to show an ID, but could use those with no photo, like a Social Security card or utility bill. Many Democrats opposed the law, saying it was intended to suppress the vote by making it harder on the elderly and people with no driver’s license. Opponents also said there was little evidence of voter impersonation fraud.

Alabama: Voter ID law changes absentee ballot process for elderly, disabled voters |

Voters who will be unable to go to the polling place on Nov. 4 must request an absentee ballot by today. “If a voter will be out of the county on the day of the election, has a physical illness, is in the military or is a student, is working as a poll worker or works a shift of over 10 hours or more, that voter may request and vote an absentee ballot,” Secretary of State Jim Bennett said. Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded from and mailed to the Absentee Election Manager in the county where the voter is registered. (You can see that list here). A voter may also request an application by phone or receive an application from their Absentee Election Manager in person.

Alabama: State spends $3 million on runoff | Gadsden Times

Alabama taxpayers will spend $3 million on a runoff election Tuesday that most citizens will skip. Alabama’s chief election official, Secretary of State Jim Bennett, said he expects about 5 percent of Alabama’ 2.85 million active voters to participate because of a lack of races that draw voters. “You have no extremely high profile elections,” Bennett said. His forecast is less than one-fourth of the 22 percent who turned out in the primary June 3. No party has a runoff for governor or U.S. Senate. The Republican Party has runoffs for secretary of state, state auditor and Public Service Commission Place 2, the 6th Congressional District, and six legislative seats. The Democratic runoff has no statewide races, no congressional contests, and only one legislative runoff. Only 20 of Alabama’s 67 counties have a Democratic runoff Tuesday.

National: After Ruling, Alabama Joins 2 States in Moving to Alter Voting Rules | New York Times

Alabama says it plans to move ahead with a requirement for potential voters to show concrete proof of citizenship, in the first sign of a wider impact from a court decision on Wednesday ordering a federal elections agency to help Arizona and Kansas enforce their own such requirement. Alabama is one of the four states that have adopted the extra layer of proof for people registering to vote. With such rules under a legal cloud, it held off on carrying them out. Now that may change. The federal court decision “has given us the confidence that Alabama has strong footing for implementation of the rules regarding proof of citizenship,” Secretary of State Jim Bennett said in an email. The ruling, by a district court in Wichita, Kan., is all but certain to be appealed, parties in the case said, and is unlikely to be the last word in decades-old fights over who gets to make the rules for voting and what they may require.

Alabama: State reaches agreement on voter registration | Associated Press

Alabama could see more low-income citizens signing up to vote now that voter rights groups and state officials have reached an agreement ensuring people who apply for social services also receive voter registration applications. The Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and others announced the agreement Tuesday. It calls for the state Medicaid Agency and the state Department of Human Resources to automatically distribute voter registration applications to people when they apply for social services, renew the services or file a change of address. Citizens whose transactions are completely remotely, such as by computer, will be mailed voter registration applications.

Alabama: Secretary of state issues final voter ID rules | The Montgomery Advertiser

The Alabama Secretary of State’s office Tuesday issued final rules on the implementation of the state’s voter identification law, with an eye toward making voter ID cards available by January. In 2011, the Legislature passed a law requiring voters to present a photo ID issued by a government, tribe, college or university for the 2014 elections. The law initially was subject to preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the criteria for preclearance earlier this year. The ID requirement will kick in for the state primary election next June. The new rules will not affect anyone who currently has a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license. Those who do not will be able to apply for a voter identification at county boards of registrars or at the secretary of state’s office. Additionally, voters will be able to obtain “free nondriver identification cards” at offices where they would get driver’s licenses.

Alabama: Final voter photo ID rules issued | WBRC

Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett Tuesday released the certified rules for Alabama’s new voter photo ID program which will go into effect for the June primaries in 2014. The release and website posting follows a 35-day public comment where his office received and considered 51 proposed comments in the preliminary rules filed in June. “We gave each of them thoughtful consideration and did make some revisions,” Bennett said. “We also met with various legislators, voter groups, senior citizen organizations, disabled citizens and nursing home administrators to gather their input.” The free voter ID process should begin as soon as January after a vendor’s contract is finalized and election officials are trained.

Alabama: Jim Bennett takes oath of office as Alabama secretary of state for fourth time |

For the fourth time, Jim Bennett took the oath of office today as Alabama’s secretary of state. Bennett, 73, was sworn in just after 5 p.m. by Gov. Robert Bentley to replace Beth Chapman, who resigned to take a job with the Alabama Farmers Federation. Bennett won’t be a candidate for the office next year. Bentley said at the time he appointed Bennett that he did not want to appoint anybody who planned to run for the office. Bennett was appointed secretary of state in 1993 and was elected to the position in 1994 and 1998. His election in 1998 marked the first time for a Republican to hold the office since Reconstruction. Bentley praised Chapman’s work and said he expected a smooth transition.