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SPLC: Tomorrow, Alabama Holds Elections without Public Health Safeguards amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama will hold primary runoff elections statewide tomorrow, Tuesday, July 14. The following statement is by Caren Short, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center:

“Tomorrow, as the state experiences a rise in infections, Alabama will conduct statewide primary runoff elections with a curbside voting ban in place that will needlessly expose voters and poll-workers to COVID-19. Meanwhile, most voters who submitted absentee ballots were required to satisfy unnecessary, burdensome hurdles by submitting a photocopy of a photo ID with their application and notarizing or finding two witnesses to sign their absentee ballot. These hurdles remain in place for tomorrow’s election amid a once-in-a-century pandemic, despite a federal district court finding that they violate the rights of voters. 

“Instead of spending time ensuring that no voter would have to choose between their vote and their health, the Alabama Secretary of State exhausted every legal avenue to keep in place election laws that provide no discernible benefit to election integrity.

“Every reputable public health expert predicts that COVID-19 will be with us in November and beyond. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended absentee and curbside voting as safer alternatives to in-person voting during the pandemic. Alabama election officials must ensure that no voter must choose between their health and their participation in democracy in future elections. This means waiving excuse requirements, witness requirements, and photo ID requirements for absentee ballots and lifting the ban on curbside voting so that county election officials may implement the practice. Without immediate action, the health of Alabama’s residents and its democracy is at stake.”