By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
A Senate bill passed out of committee Thursday would let voters register up to and including election day.
Voters must register two weeks in advance of an election under current state law. Selma Democrat Sen. Hank Sanders’ bill would change Alabama law to allow voters to register within that two week period on any day county boards of registrars maintain office hours.
Republican senators said they had concerns boards of registrars wouldn’t have time to update their voter lists before voting time.
“I could walk in on Nov. 7 and put my name down and then walk over the election booth,” said Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster. “The problem is the election worker who has taken a few days to make their list and make sure it’s accurate. … My name is not going to be on that list.”
Sen. Trip Pittman, R-Montrose, said he had spoken with county probate judges and registrars who were opposed to the bill.
“We shortened the date a couple of years ago and there was a lot of concern among the judges getting the lists together,” Pittman said. “We want to get more people to vote but how do we get a list to verify the voters who are voting are properly registered.”
Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, said she would offer an amendment on the Senate floor to move the cut off date so voters would have to register sometime before election day.
“You have to maintain a cut-off date because in Jefferson County it’s a nightmare,” Coleman-Madison said. “Those lists are already distributed to those poll inspectors and there’s no way they’re going to be able to do that the same day.”
Republican senators gave their approval to the bill “with reservations,” agreeing to Democrats’ requests the bill be allowed to get to the Senate floor for debate.