Alabama is one of the United States’ least politically engaged states, according to a new report that analyzed voter registration, past voter participating and political contributions ahead of the Nov. 6 general election.
Alabama ranked as the 3rd least politically engaged state, according to the analysis conducted by WalletHub.
The analysis compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across ten different indicators of political engagement that ranged from the percentage of voters who voted in the 2016 elections as compared to the 2012 election, the total political contributions per adult and the percentage of voters who have voted in past midterm elections.
Alabama ranked 43rd in the country for the percentage of the electorate that voted in the 2016 election, 46th for the change in the percentage of the electorate who voted in 2016 as compared to 2012, and 35th for total political contributions per adult.
The state also scored as the 27th state in the country for percentage of registered voters in the 2016 election, 28th for the percentage who voted in the 2014 midterm elections and 38th in voter accessibility policies.
With election day in only 15 days, the U.S. ranks 26 of 32 when it comes to voter turnout among developed democracies. In 2016, a record 137.5 million people voted, but that’s only 61.4 percent of the voting-age population. The numbers are worse for midterms when in 2014 only 36.4 percent of eligible voters voted.
Elections experts predict the 2018 midterms may draw the highest turnout for a midterm election in decades.
Alabama’s voter registration deadline is today, Oct. 22. You can register online at alabamavotes.gov until 11:59 p.m.
Sen. Doug Jones addresses Auburn students
Republican Tommy Tuberville was also invited to participate, but declined.
Incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, addressed Auburn University students at a forum on the university’s campus on Wednesday.
“I am a Democratic candidate, but I am an Alabama senator, and that is what I have tried to be since I have been here,” Jones said. “I promised I would work across the aisle.”
Jones said that he has sponsored 22 bipartisan bills that have been signed by President Donald Trump.
Jones and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, were both invited to address the Auburn College Democrats and the Auburn College Republicans in what the two college groups hoped would have been a debate between the two Senate candidates, but Tuberville declined to participate.
“I really appreciate the Auburn College Democrats and especially the Auburn College Republicans for inviting me,” Jones said. “I am disappointed that Tommy Tuberville is not here. I think it is important that people see two candidates side by side answering the same questions.”
Tonight was about the future, and from where I’m standing it looks incredibly bright. Thank you to the @AUCDems and @AuburnCR for such an incredible event. These students asked thoughtful and pointed questions. @TTuberville those war damn eagles would have given you some hell. pic.twitter.com/7yGAFH3FfU
— Doug Jones (@DougJones) October 29, 2020
“What you are seeing in the ads that are attacking me are simply not true,” Jones said.
Jones said that he does not support defunding the police, taking guns from Americans who like to hunt, and he does not favor abortion all the way to the point of birth.
“I have been a strong advocate for our military,” Jones said. “I have been a strong advocate for farmers. Even though I do not serve on the Agriculture Committee, I have done more for Alabama farmers than any senator has done since Howell Heflin, who was on the Agriculture Committee.”
The students asked Jones what he thought his greatest accomplishment in the Senate was.
“That would be ending the Military Widow’s Tax,” Jones said.
Jones explained that the Military Widows tax only affects about 2,000 people In Alabama, but it is a big deal for those military families. When a serviceman is killed, the Pentagon pays a stipend to the surviving spouse. Many soldiers also purchased insurance for the possibility that they would not survive their service.
Instead of paying both the survivor’s benefit and the insurance benefit, the VA previously subtracted the insurance benefit from the VA death stipend. The widows were only getting about 55 cents on the dollar of what they had expected. Every year, the Gold Star wives came to Washington and asked for that change in the law, and every year, Senators would pat them on the back and then choose finances over repealing the tax and doing what was right, Jones said.
For 27 years, the Gold Star widows had made this a priority and nothing got done. Jones did not know about this until he got to the Senate, but when he found out, he reached across the aisle and sponsored a bill with Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine to end the tax.
Eventually the bill had 82 co-sponsors, and it got passed.
“It is not the voting rights act, it is not the civil rights act, but for those widows, it meant $1,200 a month,” Jones said.
The students also asked Jones what his greatest mistake was.
“Voting for Bill Barr,” Jones said on confirming William Barr as Trump’s attorney general. “I was so disappointed. I feel sorry for Jeff Sessions. I disagree with him on a number of policy issues, but I don’t think that he deserved the hits he was taking. I knew Bill Barr from his previous service. I thought he would be an independent voice, and he hasn’t.”
“I voted on the best information I had, and I was wrong on Barr,” Jones said. “I can defend every vote that I made. What I do in the United Senate is not about politics it is about service.”
Jones was asked if he favored ending the filibuster when Democrats win control of the Senate.
“No, I have too much respect for the Senate,” Jones said. “I don’t think Joe Biden will do that — at least he won’t start that way. He has too much respect for the history of the Senate as an institution. I want to try to get the Senate back to the way it was.”
The students asked if he favored the Democrats using their new power to adjust the number of judges on the Supreme Court.
“Nope,” Jones replied. “This goes back to the filibuster. We can’t start tearing down institutions because we don’t like some decision they make.”
Jones said that many Americans wanted to do the same thing when the court seemed to liberal with the Warren Court in the 1960s.
“Right now packing the court is not something I would be in favor of,” Jones added. “At the end of the day, you never know what is going to happen.”
“We always talk about I just want the courts to call balls and strikes, but it is not a baseball game,” Jones said. “Intelligent people disagree about the law and the rule of law.”
“The goal is to find common ground,” Jones said. “Frankly, Tommy Tuberville cannot do that. A football coach is trained to beat the other side — not work with them. On the radio, he calls them communists and socialists. I have two and a half years of working with them. He can’t do it. It is not about good and evil, and we need to stop thinking in those terms.”
The students asked if farmers should be given some relief from new regulations on the environment.
“I have been a huge proponent of agriculture,” Jones said. “The current USDA has been helping the biggest farmers and not Alabama farmers. The tariff wars hurt the Alabama farmer.”
“It is going to be a challenge to work it out,” Jones said. “It is in their best interests that we do something about the climate. I believe the science and so do farmers.”
Jones urged everyone to have faith in scientists.
“Trust them please,” Jones said. “One of the most frustrating things I see these days — and we see it in climate and I see it in the pandemic — is that we have got to trust our scientists.”
Jones said that is true of both the climate and the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have consistently said don’t believe what politicians say about this pandemic not unless they are repeating what the scientists say,” Jones said. “This next six months could very well be worse than the past six months.”
“We have got to trust them,” Jones said of the scientists. “If the doctors at the FDA approve the vaccine, I will trust the vaccine. We need to listen to the scientists at the FDA, the CDC, the NIH, at UAB, and what the companies say about the vaccine.”
Jones was asked what could be done to prevent Russia, China and Iran from interfering in our elections.
“We have the technology to do it, we have the will to do it, but we need an administration who will do it, and If you think I am knocking the Trump Administration, I am,” Jones said.
Jones was asked how we can move beyond partisanship.
“It is a lot more partisan outside of D.C. than in D.C.” Jones said. “People vote for partisanship. It is your vote that will change it. Your generation can change it. You need to tell your leaders that we want to hear issues, we want to hear politics.”
Jones said that he favored delisting marijuana from the banned drug list and making it legal for people with legal marijuana to cross state lines without going to jail for it. Jones was asked what we can do to fight the opioid crisis.
“We can’t prosecute your way out of it, though there is a role there with the prosecution of doctors for running pill mills,” Jones said. The civil lawsuits against drug manufacturers is a start, he said, and leaders need to be doing a better job of educating people. Mental healths should also be a priority, he said.
“There is a reason that people have to stand up and say ‘Black lives matter,’” Jones said, saying that too many Black people, particularly Black men, are killed by police.
On trade, Jones said that he is not an isolationist. “We (Alabama) need those foreign markets. We are an exporting state. We are the third largest exporter of automobiles in the country.”
Students asked Jones if he favored repealing the Patriot Act.
“I don’t think that is going to come up,” Jones said. “When it comes up for renewal, we will tweak it. I have had concerns about it, but at the end of the day that is something that we have to constantly monitor. We will not repeal it.”
Jones predicted that debate on health care will “dominate the next Congress.”
“I am very concerned about what we are going to do about health care if the ACA is declared unconstitutional,” Jones said, also reiterating his support for expanding Medicaid in Alabama. “The state made a huge mistake when it did not expand Medicaid,” he said. “I am not for Medicare for All, but I do think that there should be a public option.”
Jones was asked about the governor’s plan to lease and build three new so-called “mega-prisons.”
“The Trump administration really issued a scathing report on the state’s prisons, that really surprised me,” Jones said. “I don’t like privatizing the prisons or the post office. We had convict labor in this country for a long time, and it was horrible.”
Jones said solving the state’s prison problems requires money, and nobody wants to raise taxes. “Everybody wants to lock them up, but it costs money.”
The next president, whether it is Trump for a second term or his Democratic opponent, Joe Biden, is getting a $27.2 trillion debt plus a coronavirus stimulus package at the end of this month that may make it close to $30 trillion by inauguration. APR asked if there is going to be a plan put in place to prevent the national debt from surpassing $40 trillion by the end of this decade.
“We have got to get out of this crisis first,” Jones said. “George W. Bush spent trillions fighting wars without paying for them while cutting taxes, and this president has done the same thing, and now those tax cuts are coming home to roost.”
“I am not going to start looking at this until after the coronavirus crisis is over,” Jones said. “Part of the reason that revenues are down is because people are not working and paying taxes. If we don’t get this solved, we could end up owing $50 trillion.”
Due to coronavirus concerns and maintaining the proper social distancing, Wednesday’s event was limited to just five news reporters. Jones told reporters that he is running neck-in-neck with Tuberville approaching Tuesday’s election.
“I am not going to guarantee a win, and I am not going to guarantee that we are not going to win,” Jones said.
Polls open on Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. CST. You must have a valid photo ID in order to participate.
Faith in Action Alabama calls on law enforcement to protect voters from harassment
“In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.”
Nine clergy members from across the state have signed an open letter calling on local and state law enforcement to protect voters against intimidation and harassment at the polls.
The clergy are leaders in Faith in Action Alabama, a regional association of Christian congregations affiliated with the national group Faith in Action, the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the country. It seeks to address a range of issues like gun violence, health care, immigration and voting rights.
This is their letter:
Across our country and here in Alabama, it is being seen that citizens are turning out in record numbers to vote early and by absentee ballots. It is very heartening to see so many of our fellow citizens energized and committed to exercising that most fundamental and critical duty of citizenship, the use of their franchise. As servant leaders of an ecumenical association of nearly 2,000 faith communities across our state we are certainly encouraging our congregants to fulfill this duty either through early, absentee or day of election voting. For us this is not only part of our civic duty, but as people of faith obligation as well.
Unfortunately, it it also largely known that there are forces in our country that are actively, publicly and fervently at work to suppress the votes of some of our fellow citizens. We write to implore you to use the full authority of your office and department to ensure that those who seek to vote, especially on November 3, 2020 are not assailed or intimidated by illegal harassment in their polling places. We believe these threats are pervasive enough and real enough that proactive measures should be in place as citizens come to vote throughout that day. The strong, visible presence of uniformed legitimate law officers will hopefully prevent any attempts at confrontation or intimidation and violence.
The history of our state is marked by the efforts of tens of thousands of Alabamians who marched, protested, brought legal actions, shed their blood and some even gave their lives that every citizen of this state might have full and free access to the ballot box. In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.
Please be assured of our prayers for you and the men and women of your department who have the awesome responsibility of providing public safety and equal protection under the law for every Alabamian. If we, the members of Faith in Action Alabama’s Clergy Leadership Team, can be of assistance please do not hesitate to call upon us.
Rev. Jeremiah Chester, St. Mark Baptist Church, Huntsville
Rev. David Frazier, Sr., Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, Mobile, and Moderator, Mobile Baptist Sunlight Association
Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church
Bishop Russell Kendrick, Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast
Bishop Seth O. Lartey, Alabama-Florida Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
President Melvin Owens, Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention
Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Ninth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church
Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., Living Stones Temple, Fultondale
Father Manuel Williams, C.R., Resurrection Catholic Missions of the South, Montgomery
Some conservatives oppose Amendment 2
An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI.
A number of prominent conservative voices in the state of Alabama are urging voters to vote no on Amendment 2 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Amendments 2 and 3 are a rewrite of the state constitutional reforms championed by former Chief Justice Howell Heflin in 1973.
An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months, conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI since Heflin’s revisions were approved in Amendment No. 328 in 1973.
The resulting Amendment 2 is one of the most controversial constitutional amendments brought forward by the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature since Gov. Bob Riley’s controversial Amendment 1 in 2003, which would have raised taxes by over a $1 billion. That was voted down by the voters, and conservatives are asking voters to similarly reject Amendment 2.
Alabama Eagle Forum is urging citizen to vote no on Amendment 2.
Amendment 2 is a complete rewrite of what is an already complicated portion of the Alabama Constitution, and it does many things. One of these is that it strips the power of the Legislature to impeach a judge.
Under current law, the Alabama House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment against a sitting judge. If the House impeaches, the Senate sits in trial and decides whether the judge has acted improperly and is guilty of what the House has charged them with.
This closely parallels the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 2 would change all of that and instead the only power in state government who can discipline judges would be the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which brings charges against judges, and the Court of the Judiciary, which determines guilt and punishments.
The Alabama Legislature has not impeached anyone in over a hundred years. Amendment 2 would take the power of impeaching members of the judiciary away from future legislatures.
Former Chief Justice Roy Moore opposes Amendment 2 and explained that stripping the Legislature of the power to discipline a judge for cause takes away a powerful check on the judiciary and violates the principle of checks and balances between the three branches of government. Moore also objected to giving more power to the unelected Judicial Inquiry Commission.
Moore, like Eagle Forum, also strongly objected to taking the chief justice’s power to appoint his own administrative director of the Alabama Court System and instead gives it to the full Supreme Court.
The chief justice is the elected head of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, he or she would not be able to hire their own administrator but would be forced to work with an administrator chosen by the Supreme Court as a whole.
The current administrative director of the Alabama Court System is Rich Hobson, who was appointed by Chief Justice Tom Parker. Hobson is in his third tenure as administrative director of the Alabama Court System. The previous two times he was appointed by Moore.
When Moore was effectively removed by the Court of the Judiciary his replacement as chief justice fired Hobson.
If Amendment 2 passes, the associate justices could overrule Chief Justice Tom Parker, fire Hobson and replace him with someone of their choosing.
This situation would also apply to Democrats. The last Democrat elected to the role of chief justice was Sue Bell Cobb in 2006. Cobb was able to appoint her own administrative director of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, the administrative director of the Alabama Court System would have been someone suitable to the Republican associate justices, who could simply outvote the chief justice.
Moore called this move a “power grab” by the associate justices.
“Amendment 2 is really an anti-democratic and anti-Tom Parker amendment,” Foundation for Moral Law staff attorney Matt Clark said. “It is anti-democratic because it removes the people’s main check on the judicial branch, which is impeachment. Instead, it provides that only the Judicial Inquiry Commission, over which the people have no control, may remove a judge from office. It is also designed to strip Chief Justice Parker of his power as the administrative head of the judicial branch to choose his right-hand man for carrying out the judicial branch’s administrative role.”
Eagle Forum also had a number of other objections to the extremely long and complicated Amendment 2, including that it takes away the power of the lieutenant governor to make JIC appointments and gives them to the governor.
The Alabama Constables Association has also come out strongly against Amendment 2, arguing that it would write the funding mechanism for their position completely out of the state constitution.
“Constables are not taxpayer-funded, they are largely voluntary Peace Officers,” said Jefferson County Constable Jonathan Barbee. “The fees they collect from their duties as Officers of the Courts allow them to support the expenses of the office such as vehicles, uniforms, and equipment. Amendment 2 also deletes the language protecting how Constables are paid by private court fees, leaving it in question for the appointed Administrator to decide.”
In Alabama, constables are elected peace officers and act in many of the same ways as do sheriff’s deputies. They’re able to make arrests, serve court papers and provide security for parades, funerals and other functions.
Amendment 2 was sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.
Voters need to remember to vote on the constitutional amendments. Amendment 2 is extremely long and complicated so voters should probably read it and know how they are going to vote before going to the polls.
FarmPAC endorses congressional candidate Barry Moore
“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said.
Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s 2nd Congressional District general election race.
“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”
“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”
“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”
A full list of FarmPAC’s endorsements is available here. FarmPAC previously endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary, but he was bested by Moore in a Republican primary runoff.
Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.
Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress after five terms.