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Elections

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

Eddie Burkhalter

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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.

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“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.” 

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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.

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Elections

Tuberville, Sessions campaign together

The two former Republican primary opponents participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Brandon Moseley

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate campaign released a social media video Thursday featuring Tuberville alongside former U.S. Sen. and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The two former Republican primary opponents had participated in a series of campaign events across the Tennessee Valley area.

Tuberville and Sessions on Wednesday met with representatives of Huntsville’s defense and technology sectors, participated in an event sponsored by the Republican Women of Huntsville and headlined multiple campaign fundraising events.

Sessions said, “Tommy, I support you 100 percent. Alabama must send you to represent us in the Senate. We cannot allow a Chuck Schumer acolyte – Doug Jones – to represent Alabama in the Senate.”

“You see it on his vote on the judges and Kavanaugh and the way he’s behaved about the new nominee, so I think … it would be shocking that Alabama would reelect a Doug Jones,” Sessions continued. “I know you’re going to win. I feel really good about it, and I’m glad that you’re traveling the state hard and that you’re here in this important community.”

The night after Tuberville won the Republican primary runoff election, Sessions committed to doing his part to help defeat Jones and reclaim the Senate seat for the ALGOP.

“After we won the runoff, Jeff Sessions called and told me, ‘Coach, I’m all in,’ and today’s joint events certainly demonstrate that he is a man of his word,” Tuberville said following the video shoot. “Jeff Sessions understands that it’s time we once again had a U.S. senator whose votes reflect our conservative Alabama values, not the ultra-liberal Hollywood and New York values of Doug Jones’s high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”

Tuberville faces a determined Jones, who is flooding the airwaves with ads. Democrats are desperate to hold on to Jones’ seat, believing that his seat could tip control of the Senate to the Democrats.

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Democrats hope to hold onto their control the U.S. House of Representatives and a recent poll by Rasmussen shows Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden with a five point lead over incumbent Donald Trump.

Sessions left the U.S. Senate to accept an appointment as Trump’s first attorney general.

Jones defeated former Chief Justice Roy Moore to win the seat in the special election.

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Sessions was fired by Trump in 2018 and announced his candidacy for Senate the day before qualifying ended. Tuberville had already spent ten months on the campaign trail at that point.

Tuberville defeated Sessions, Moore, Congressman Bradley Byrne, State Rep. Arnold Mooney and businessman Stanley Adair in the crowded Republican primary. Tuberville is a former Auburn University head football coach. He also coached Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Ole Miss. Tuberville won a national championship as the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami. Tuberville lives in Auburn.

The general election is Nov. 3.

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Education

Report: Alabama is fourth-least politically engaged state in 2020

The study scored states based on 11 key indicators of political engagement. Those included things like voter turnout, political donations and voter accessibility policies.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Alabama was ranked fourth from last in political engagement in the country in 2020 in an analysis done by the personal finance website WalletHub.

The study scored states based on 11 key indicators of political engagement. Those included things like voter turnout, political donations and voter accessibility policies.

A record 137.5 million Americans voted in the 2016 presidential election, but that only accounts for 61.4 percent of citizens who are old enough to vote. The U.S. ranks 26 in voter turnout among the world’s 35 developed nations. 

“That’s no surprise, considering most states don’t emphasize civic education in their schools,” the report points out. “Large proportions of the public fail even simple knowledge tests such as knowing whether one’s state requires identification in order to vote.”

One of the study’s metrics where Alabama scored lowest was the percentage of the electorate that voted in the 2016 election, which was 57.4 percent. That number is low, said Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst, and is 4.5 percent lower than it was in the 2012 presidential election.

She said that other factors responsible for the state’s low rank were its preparedness for voting in a pandemic and the low percentage of residents who participate in local groups or organizations.

The report’s assessment of the state’s preparedness for voting in a pandemic included voting accessibility metrics.

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“Alabama actually received a negative score here because of the unnecessary obstacles created for voter access, such as: voters need a notary or two witnesses to complete an absentee ballot, voters are required to provide a copy of a photo ID for the mail application and/or ballot, and mail ballots are due before close of polling,” Gonzalez said in an email.

She said that states ranked at the top of the list, like first-place Maine, have higher engagement due to measures taken by state legislatures. 

“Making it easy for people to vote increases engagement,” Gonzalez said. “This can be done through things like automatic voter registration, early voting, or voting by mail. The existence of local civic organizations involved in voter mobilization also plays a part in this.”

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A federal judge ordered Alabama on Sept. 30 to do away with its witnesses or notary requirement for mail-in ballots, and to allow curbside voting for the Nov. 3 election. An appeals court reversed the former ruling on Tuesday, a decision which Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill applauded. It upheld the latter decision, about which Merrill said, “we intend to appeal to the Supreme Court to see that this fraudulent practice is banned in Alabama, as it is not currently allowed by state law.”

Metrics where Alabama ranked below average, with a score of one being best and 25 being average, were as follows:

  • 26th in percentage of registered voters in the 2016 presidential election
  • 35th in voter accessibility policies
  • 37th in percentage of the electorate who voted in the 2018 midterm elections
  • 38th in total political contributions per adult population
  • 42nd in percentage of the electorate who voted in the 2016 presidential election
  • 45th is the change in the percentage of the electorate who actually voted in the 2016 elections versus the 2012 elections

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Elections

Alabama Retail Association endorses Mike Rogers

“Proud to receive the endorsement of the Alabama Retail Association’s PAC!” Rogers said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressman Mike Rogers

Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, this week thanked the Alabama Retail Association for their recent endorsement. Rogers is seeking his tenth term representing the 3rd Congressional District.

“Proud to receive the endorsement of the Alabama Retail Association’s PAC!” Rogers said. “Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, the retailers’ 4,300 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living.”

Rogers was first elected in 2002 after previous service in the Alabama House of Representatives and the Calhoun County Commission. He currently serves as ranking member of the Committee on Homeland Security and is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee. Mike also serves as a member of the Strategic Forces subcommittee.

Rogers summarizes his conservative ideology with the old adage “the government that governs best, governs least.”

Rogers is a graduate of Saks High School and earned both his undergraduate degree in political science and masters of public administration at Jacksonville State University. He was a practicing attorney and is a small business owner in Calhoun County.

Rogers faces Democratic nominee Adia Winfrey in the Nov. 3 general election.

The Alabama Retail Association represents retailers, the largest private employer in the state of Alabama, before the Alabama Legislature and the U.S. Congress. Through sales of food, clothing, furniture, medicine and more, the association’s 4,300 independent merchant and national company members touch almost every aspect of daily living.

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Rogers is a sixth generation East Alabamian and native of Calhoun County. He has been married to his wife, Beth, for 35 years. They have three children. Mike grew up in the small mill village of Blue Mountain. His mother worked in the local textile mill and his father was a firefighter.

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Elections

Barry Moore “pleased” with President Trump’s town hall performance

“I was pleased with how President Trump did during his Town Hall,” Moore said.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump participates in a town hall with NBC News.

Congressional candidate Barry Moore said Thursday that he was pleased with President Donald Trump’s performance during Thursday’s NBC News town hall in Miami.

“I was pleased with how President Trump did during his Town Hall,” Moore said. “Thursday night, despite what I felt was a moderator that was biased against him. He did a great job of pointing out his record of success and how a Joe Biden administration would be disastrous for our economic recovery from the COVID pandemic.”

“I especially liked how he pointed out that the Democrat’s behavior during Justice Kavanaugh’s appointment process affected Justice Barrett’s appointment,” Moore said. “The Democrats sowed discord and division during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation and now they’re reaping the consequences of that discord.”

“This President can rightly claim to have created the greatest economy in our nation’s history, and I’m so glad we had those three years to recover from the Obama/Biden Great Recession before the pandemic hit,” Moore said. “I don’t think there’s any doubt Donald Trump is the better choice to lead us through the pandemic reopening and recovery.”

Trump Victory Finance Committee member former Perry Hooper Jr., a former Alabama state representative, agreed with Moore that the president performed well.

“The President was very high energy and was confident in his responses to the guests questions,” Hooper said. “It was obvious that the crowd loved him. They clapped for the President and a guest seated right behind the President seem to agree with everything the President said. One lady that was introduced as someone leaning to voting for Biden seemed mesmerized by the President and complimented him. The only person in the room that came across not supporting the President was NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. In my opinion, I believe the left was putting a lot of pressure on her to be argumentative. As far as Biden’s Town Hall Meeting went, He finally indicated he was for packing the Court. That should scare the heck out of Conservative Americans.”

Both Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden held competing town halls in place of the canceled second debate previously scheduled for Thursday evening.

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There was originally supposed to be three presidential debates, but after the first debate, Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. Following a brief hospitalization, the president recovered. The non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debate updated the rules so the debate could be held virtually. Trump rejected that option and thus a debate was replaced with two different town halls.

“I was disappointed that we missed a chance to directly compare President Trump and Mr. Biden because of their competing Town Halls, but what I did see of Mr. Biden’s performance was more of the same old, same old–he’s both for and against basically every issue, and even with a sympathetic moderator he couldn’t keep his stories straight,” Moore said. “I’m looking forward to the final debate because I expect our President to once again show why he’s our best choice for the next four years.”

Moore is running in the general election on Nov. 3 for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. He owns a small waste management company along with his wife, Heather. They have four children. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014. He lost in the Republican primary in 2018.

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Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey Hall. Incumbent Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is not running for re-election.

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