Supreme Court Pumps Brakes on Curbside Voting in Alabama

October 22, 2020 by Dan McCue
Alabama State Capitol.

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court put the brakes on a lower court order that would have allowed curbside voting in Alabama in November.

The underlying lawsuit was filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program on behalf of voters with pre-existing health conditions who are worried they’ll be exposed to the coronavirus while at the polls.

A lower court ruled Alabama counties could offer curbside voting to these individuals.

But Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John Merrill sought to block the lower court ruling, arguing that because the state does not have a law expressly permitting curbside voting, the accommodation should not be allowed.

Alabama, Marshall said, has already taken ” extraordinary measures to ensure that all voters can vote safely.”

To implement curbside voting now, just days before the election, would create “chaos,” he said.

The justices split 5-3 on the matter, with the court’s three liberal members dissenting.

Though the majority did not explain its rationale for tossing the lower court ruling, Justice Sonia Sotomayor had no reservations in describing why she disagreed with them.

In a dissent which Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan joined, Sotomayor said making curbside voting available to those who sought it was but a “modest” accommodation that she would have allowed to go forward.

“It does not require all counties to adopt curbside voting; it simply gives prepared counties the option to do so,” she wrote. “This remedy respects both the right of voters with disabilities to vote safely and the state’s interest in orderly elections.”

Alabama Secretary of State Merrill said in a written statement,

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods – including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.

“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters,” he added.

This is the second time the Supreme Court has waded into the issues of curbside voting in Alabama. In July, before the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the court put on hold a lower court ruling that would have allowed curbside voting in the state’s primary and would have also eased absentee ballot requirements in three of the state’s largest counties.

In The News

Health

Voting

State News

Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing
In The States
Once the Mainstream Model, Michigan GOP Embraces Right Wing

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Josh Venable, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and chief of staff to former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, can trace the arc of the state's Republican Party clearly."This was the state where to be Republican was defined by Gerald Ford and George... Read More

What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records
In The States
What NY Prosecutors Could Learn from Trump's Tax Records

NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trump's tax records.Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for... Read More

Indian Country Gripped by Haaland Hearing for Top US Post
Political News
Indian Country Gripped by Haaland Hearing for Top US Post

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — For Native Americans, Deb Haaland is more than an elected official on track to become the first Indigenous secretary of the Interior Department. She is a sister, an auntie and a fierce pueblo woman whose political stances have been molded by her... Read More

Northam to Sign Death Penalty Repeal Bill
In The States
Northam to Sign Death Penalty Repeal Bill
February 22, 2021
by TWN Staff

RICHMOND, Va. - Virginia lawmakers gave final approval Monday to a bill that will end capital punishment in the Commonwealth. The legislation now heads to Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who has said he will sign it into law, making Virginia the 23rd state to stop executions.... Read More

Robinhood in the Hot Seat
Congress
Robinhood in the Hot Seat
February 19, 2021
by Victoria Turner

The decision by the online brokerage firm Robinhood to impose restrictions on customer trading at the high point of last month’s online trading frenzy was brought under scrutiny at Thursday’s hearing of the House Financial Services Committee. While Robinhood insists that its decision did not favor... Read More

Inslee Taps Feds for $2.2 Billion in Relief Funds
In The States
Inslee Taps Feds for $2.2 Billion in Relief Funds
February 19, 2021
by TWN Staff

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday approved the appropriation of $2.2 billion federal funding earmarked to help move the state from COVID-19 pandemic to a lasting recovery. House Bill 1368, which the governor signed Friday afternoon, draws from a pool of funding the federal government allocated to... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top