Loading...

Alabama Asks Supreme Court to Review COVID-19 Election Ruling

June 30, 2020by Todd Ruger, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
Absentee ballots that came in after the 2016 election. (David Swanson/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

WASHINGTON — 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.”

At issue in Alabama are two requirements that the state officials say combat voter fraud. Voters must submit a copy of their photo ID with their absentee ballot application, and absentee ballots must contain a voter affidavit that is either notarized or signed by two witnesses.

But a lower court judge ordered that officials in Jefferson, Mobile and Lee counties could not enforce the witness requirement for any voters who decide it is unsafe to comply and declare in writing that they are at a substantially higher risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.

And the order precludes officials from enforcing the photo ID requirement for voters who are over 65 years old or have a disability and determine they can’t safely satisfy that requirement.

The judge decided that “the photo ID requirement could present some elderly and disabled voters who wished to vote absentee with the burden of choosing between exercising their right to vote and protecting themselves from the virus, which could dissuade them from voting.”

The injunction also allows local election officials to offer curbside voting at in-person polling locations.

Merrill told the Supreme Court that the injunction changes the law in three counties while absentee voting is already ongoing, and leaves the law in place in Alabama’s remaining 64 counties. “How is that not going to confuse voters?” the application states.

The election was delayed from March to July, so voters have had more than three additional months to address these easy-to-satisfy requirements, the application states.

And the injunction could undermine confidence in the elections and lead to a different type of voter disenfranchisement, Merrill argues.

“These provisions were enacted by the Legislature precisely to combat claims of absentee-voter fraud; with their sudden enjoinment, voters could wonder if fraud will increase and if their votes will really make a difference, perhaps leading them not to vote at all,” the application states.

President Donald Trump repeatedly has raised unsubstantiated claims that mail-in ballots will lead to fraud in the election, while Attorney General William Barr has said the increase in mail-in voting “opens the floodgates to fraud.”

On Friday, the Supreme Court declined a request from Texas Democrats to reinstate a lower court’s order to allow all voters to vote by mail if they feared they would catch the coronavirus at a polling place.

———

©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Elections

December 7, 2021
by Dan McCue
FEC Releases New Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates

WASHINGTON — The Federal Elections Commission released the latest edition of its campaign guide for congressional candidates and committees Monday,... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Federal Elections Commission released the latest edition of its campaign guide for congressional candidates and committees Monday, posting a PDF version to its website ahead of publication of a print edition. The new, 212-page guide replaces the most recent edition, which was published... Read More

December 2, 2021
by Reece Nations
Stacey Abrams Announces Georgia Gubernatorial Campaign

ATLANTA — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday she will again run for governor in 2022. Abrams previously sought... Read More

ATLANTA — Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams announced on Wednesday she will again run for governor in 2022. Abrams previously sought to become Georgia’s first Black female governor in 2018 when she lost to current Gov. Brian Kemp. That election came down to the wire but Abrams... Read More

December 1, 2021
by Reece Nations
Paid Leave Advocates Say Bipartisan Path not Feasible

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the passage of paid family and medical leave into law are pushing the policy as a... Read More

WASHINGTON — Advocates for the passage of paid family and medical leave into law are pushing the policy as a solution to what could be a difficult 2022 midterm election for Democrats. Provisions for paid leave were included in the Build Back Better framework that passed... Read More

December 1, 2021
by Dan McCue
Councilman Andre Dickens Wins Atlanta Mayoral Race

ATLANTA — City Council member Andre Dickens prevailed in a runoff election Tuesday and will be Altanta’s next mayor. Dickens... Read More

ATLANTA — City Council member Andre Dickens prevailed in a runoff election Tuesday and will be Altanta’s next mayor. Dickens came in second to the city council's current president, Felicia Moore, in a primary election in November that included 12 other candidates in a nonpartisan contest.... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Reece Nations
Rural Candidates Reckon with Mainstream Messaging

SAN ANTONIO — Although much of the state’s social and political fabric has changed since the last Texas Democrat won... Read More

SAN ANTONIO — Although much of the state’s social and political fabric has changed since the last Texas Democrat won a statewide office in 1994, the party has repeatedly failed to capitalize through its messaging on Republicans’ miscues. Now, with new opportunities on the horizon, rural... Read More

November 23, 2021
by Dan McCue
FEC Approves Rental of Schiff Campaign Email List to Promote New Book

WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is free to rent the email list compiled by his principal campaign committee, Schiff... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., is free to rent the email list compiled by his principal campaign committee, Schiff for Congress, to promote his new memoir, “Midnight in Washington,” the Federal Election Commission said in an advisory opinion announced Wednesday. Random House, a division of... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version