The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday pushing back the voter registration period from 10 days prior to an election to 17. It now goes to the Senate. But even if the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law, opponents say they will file a complaint with the Justice Department in an attempt to block it. The measure was pushed by voter registrars around the state who said they need the additional time to finalize voter lists, but it drew strong criticism from Democrats saying it was an attempt to block minority voting. “We are not helping Alabamians when we start closing doors and put obstacles in their way to vote,” said Rep. James Buskey, D-Mobile.
The final vote was 67 to 34. The legislation now goes to the Senate. The bill has appeared on other House agendas in the past few weeks, but opposition from the black caucus prevented it from coming to a vote.
Sponsor Wes Long, R-Guntersville, disagreed with that characterization, saying it was an attempt to ensure that registrars would have time to prepare voter lists and correct for any mistakes.
“(Registrars) want everybody to be able to vote,” Long said. “Say someone mails (their registration) on the 10th day and it gets there five or six days before election. It could put them at a disadvantage before an election.”