By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Tuesday, the Alabama House of Representatives passed House Bill 162 which would move the deadline to register to vote from ten days before an election to 17 days before an election.
HB162 was sponsored by Representative Wes Long (R) from Guntersville. Long said that he introduced the bill at the urging of the Alabama Association of the Boards of Registrars (AABOR). Long said that the Registrars had too much workload getting ready for an election to be having to deal with people registering to vote just ten days before the election. Alabama Registrars are appointed for a 4 year term by the Governor, State Auditor, or the Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries.
Rep. Long said that some of the registrars wanted to move the deadline back to thirty days but the 17 day deadline was set as a compromise. Long said that some southeastern states have a 30 day deadline and moving the registration deadline that far back had been discussed.
Representative Alvin Holmes (D) from Montgomery said that if the registrars thought they were being overworked that they should let someone else do the job. Holmes said that he could easily find people who wanted to be on the Board of Registrars.
The President of AABOR is Don Milligan from Marshall County. Long said that he had discussed this legislation extensively with Milligan and that the registrars were in favor of moving the deadline back.
Democratic Minority Leader Representative Craig Ford (D) from Gadsden said, “I don’t know why ten days isn’t enough.” Ford claimed the real reason for changing the deadline is disenfranchising minority voters. Ford said that Alabama Democrats did not agree to moving the deadline back and wanted to know who Long had been negotiating with who agreed to a 17 day deadline. Ford said, “I would like to know if there is anyone in our party who compromised on this?”
Rep. Laura Hall (D) from Huntsville said that she was in favor of moving the deadline to register to vote all the way to election day, like some other states already have implemented.
Long said that registrars from all over the state are in support of the bill and that he has not spoken to one who is opposed to the bill.
Rep. Merika Coleman-Evans (D) from Birmingham said, “These bills are a ruse to circumvent the voting rights Act of 1964. Republicans have not been supporters of the voting rights act.”
An amendment to change the date of publication of the voter list to seven days earlier was approved by a margin of 82 to 16.
An amendment by Rep. Joe Hubbard (D) from Montgomery to keep Montgomery County out of this change was defeated.
Rep. Micky Hammon (R) from Decatur told Long I appreciate that you brought this bill. The Board of Registrars in my county have contacted me in favor of your bill.
Hb162 passed by a vote of 67 to 34.