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SPLC: Governor Ivey's Statements on Absentee Balloting 'Irresponsible', Showing 'Total Lack of Leadership on a Critical Issue'

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The following statement in response to Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s comments on a call to press yesterday regarding no-excuse absentee balloting, is by Nancy Abudu, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC):

“Through a worldwide public health crisis with no clear end in sight, Governor Kay Ivey and Alabama’s leaders are digging in their heels to expand voter suppression in the state in a way that will impact not only communities of color and low-income individuals, but senior citizens and those taking care of sick family members as well among those directly impacted by COVID-19.  Governor Ivey’s use of the myth of voter fraud as an excuse to prevent Alabamians from having a safe way to vote by mail in future elections is irresponsible, shows a total lack of leadership on a critical issue, and will undermine our democratic process. Thousands of people will be disenfranchised if there is no option for them to vote by mail.”

“Meanwhile on the same day hours earlier, Georgia’s Secretary of State committed to sending every eligible, active voter an absentee ballot request form in the state's rescheduled primary election. Expanding no-excuse absentee balloting, implementing early voting, and recruiting less at-risk poll workers are bare minimum policies Alabama should do to avoid electoral disasters in its primary run-off in July and in the general election in November.”

Last week, the SPLC joined with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, Greater Birmingham Ministries, and the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP to urge Alabama’s Secretary of State to issue guidance and regulations immediately to ensure that no Alabamian risks their health to participate in the democratic process in July's run-off. Among these recommendations was for the Secretary to permit every qualified voter in Alabama to vote through mail-absentee ballots. On Monday, Secretary of State Merrill issued guidance that voters in the July 14 primary run-off can use "physical illness or infirmity" as an excuse for a mail-absentee ballot, but has not waived photo ID requirements that demand a paper copy of an acceptable form of identification be included with that absentee ballot.
In February, the SPLC released a report detailing the state of voting rights in Alabama – “Alive and Well: Voter Suppression and Election Mismanagement in Alabama”.