Alabama Contemplates Bill Criminalizing Absentee Voting

Alabama is exploring measures to make it more difficult to cast an absentee ballot.

SB1 cleared a state senate committee 7-3 on Wednesday. Republican State Senator Garlan Gudger of Cullman has sponsored the bill.

If passed, the proposal will make it illegal to order, solicit, pre-fill, obtain, or send an absentee ballot application; applicants will be required to submit their own applications; and criminal penalties will be imposed for infractions.

Anyone who violates the measure may be charged with a misdemeanor offense, and anyone who gets remuneration for doing so may be found guilty of a class C felony. A third person who “knowingly” does so faces up to ten years in jail and a class C felony conviction.

Anyone who intentionally pays a third party to submit their absentee ballot may face a class B felony accusation, punishable by up to 20 years in jail.

If voters require assistance in filling out their ballots, they may seek assistance from a family member, a household resident, the Secretary of State’s office, a county judge, or an elections manager.

There are other exclusions for voters who are blind, disabled, or unable to read or write. The proposal would also not affect military personnel stationed overseas.

“The bottom line is that it is illegal to pay or receive money while collecting ballots or submitting applications,” Mr Gudger told reporters, according to the Alabama Reflector. “This is not a ballot. This is a ballot application.

Alabama Contemplates Bill Criminalizing Absentee Voting

The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed strong opposition to the law.

“With several organizations providing services to seniors, students, or people who are homebound, this bill prevents their work to ensure and expand access to the ballot,” the civil rights organization said in a statement.

“Criminalising assistance that provides access to the voting process to others limits participation for Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens.”

If Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey signs the bill into law, it will take effect immediately.

It is the most recent in a long line of Republican efforts to limit voting rights.

According to the Brennan Center, which analyzes legislation, at least 32 states submitted legislation last year to restrict voting by limiting how people might register, stay on voter rolls, or vote in comparison to existing state law.

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