Connect with us

Elections

Alabama appeals COVID-19 voting decision to U.S. Supreme Court

Eddie Burkhalter

Published

on

Alabama has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s decision allowing curbside voting during the July 14 Republican runoff amid the COVID-19 pandemic. *Correction: This story previously stated that the runoff was on July 12. That was an error. The primary runoff is on July 14. This story has been updated to correct that mistake, and we regret the error.

Edmund LaCour Jr., solicitor general with the state attorney general’s office, filed an emergency application for stay with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday, arguing that the Supreme Court has previously ruled that lower courts should not alter election rules on the eve of an election. 

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon on June 15 approved, in part, a preliminary injunction filed by the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund Inc., the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program. 

Those groups sued Gov. Kay Ivey and Secretary of State John Merrill seeking to implement curbside voting for at-risk citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic and to remove requirements for voters to submit photocopies of IDs and that witnesses sign absentee ballot requests. 

The state appealed Kallon’s ruling, but on June 25, judges on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the state of Alabama’s appeal. 

“Appellants fail to explain why voter confidence is not negatively affected by their enforcement of voting restrictions that force Alabamians to choose between voting and potentially contracting a severe or deadly case of COVID-19,” the judge’s wrote in the ruling. 

The 11th circuit judges, in denying the state’s appeal, also found the state’s argument that Alabama’s photo ID and witness requirements are meant to combat voting fraud were without merit, and wrote that “according to Plaintiffs’ evidence from the Heritage Foundation, Alabama has prosecuted a total of only sixteen people for absentee-ballot voter fraud” in the past two decades.

Public Service Announcement

“That suggests that Alabama has not found itself in recent years to have a significant absentee-ballot fraud problem,” the order reads.

The state, in its filing to the Supreme Court, argues again that the requirement for voters to submit photocopies of a photo ID and witness requirements to vote absentee are to prevent voter fraud. 

As the State explained in 1996 when successfully seeking preclearance for strengthening the witness requirement, the protection was enacted in direct response to ‘systematic absentee ballot fraud and abuse’ that had likely altered the results in several statewide races in 1994,”  LaCour Jr. wrote to the Supreme Court. “These provisions remain vital for preventing absentee voter fraud.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

The state also argues to the Supreme Court that requirements to obtain copies of photo ID’s and have ballots signed by witnesses is not overly burdensome, and that perhaps family members can take photo ID’s to have copies made if a person doesn’t wish to leave their home during the pandemic for fear of contracting COVID-19. 

“No precedent of this Court indicates that the mere possibility that some voters may need to ask someone else for help making a photocopy imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote,” the state’s filing reads.

The state’s decision to appeal to the Supreme Court comes as the number of new cases and hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in recent days have both been record high, and the state’s health officer expressed concern that the virus is spreading too widely for contact tracing to be effective.

Alabama on Monday saw a new record number of patients in hospitals with COVID-19, and the seven-day and 14-day rolling averages of new cases on Monday were also at record highs.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

Advertisement

Congress

Voting rights activist calls for federal Department of Democracy

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

Micah Danney

Published

on

(VIA BLACK VOTERS MATTER)

The co-founder of an organization that is working to mobilize Black voters in Alabama and elsewhere used the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to call for a new federal agency to protect voting rights nationwide.

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

“The Voting Rights Act should be reinstated, but only as a temporary measure. I want and deserve better, as do more than 300 million of my fellow Americans,” Brown said.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the law in a 5-4 ruling in 2013, eliminating federal oversight that required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get approval before they changed voting rules.

“To ensure that the Voter’s Bill of Rights is enforced, we need a federal agency at the cabinet level, just like the Department of Defense,” Brown said. “A Department of Democracy would actively look at the patchwork of election systems across the 50 states and territories. With federal oversight, our nation can finally fix the lack of state accountability that currently prevails for failure to ensure our democratic right to vote.”

She cited excessively long lines, poll site closings and voter ID laws in the recent primaries in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas as voter suppression techniques that disproportionately affect Black and other communities of color.

Brown said that the July 17 passing of Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma in 1965, has amplified calls for the Voting Rights Act to be strengthened. That’s the right direction, she said, but it isn’t enough.

Public Service Announcement

“History happens in cycles, and we are in a particularly intense one. We have been fighting for the soul of democracy, kicking and screaming and marching and protesting its erosion for decades,” Brown said.

Continue Reading

Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Congressional candidate Jerry Carl.

The Alabama Forestry Association on Thursday announced its endorsement of Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Jerry Carl.

“Jerry Carl has experience working closely with the forest products industry in his role as County Commissioner and will carry that knowledge to Washington,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for limited government and free markets and will continue to promote those same values in Congress. We are proud to endorse him.”

Carl is a small businessman who has started more than 10 small businesses in South Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs. He is currently serving on the Mobile County Commission.

“I am thrilled to earn the endorsement of ForestPAC,” Carl said. “Alabama has a thriving network of hard-working men and women in all aspects of the forestry community, and I look forward to being a strong, pro-business voice for them in Congress. As a lifelong businessman and an owner of timberland, I understand firsthand the needs and concerns of the forestry community, and I will be a tireless advocate in Washington for Alabama’s forest industry.”

Carl said that he was inspired to run for the Mobile County Commission when he became frustrated with the local government.

He and his wife, Tina, have been married for 39 years. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Carl faces Democratic nominee James Averhart in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who currently represents the 1st Congressional District, did not run for another term and has endorsed Carl.

Public Service Announcement

Continue Reading

Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.

Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

Public Service Announcement

Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

Continue Reading

Elections

Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”

The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding ­in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”

Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.

Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.

Public Service Announcement

The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.

ADVERTISEMENT

The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement