Alabama Republican Governor Kay Ivey has signed into law a bill prohibiting curbside voting. More specifically, the bill bans the removal of a voting machine or ballot from the designated polling place for the purpose of voting.
House Bill 285 was sponsored by state Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, and carried in the Senate by Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook.
“Since taking office, we have always prioritized securing the chain of ballot custody. By keeping the ballot in the hands of the voter, we ensure each vote is counted accurately, honestly, and independently from any poll worker or third party,” said Secretary of State John Merrill. “We are especially grateful to our sponsors Representative Wes Allen, R-Troy and Senator Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, as well as the rest of the Alabama Legislature, for their dedication to securing our elections and protecting the right of Alabamians to cast a secret ballot.”
Opponents of the legislation claim that curbside voting makes it easier for disabled people to vote as they don’t have to get out of their cars. The secretary of state’s office said that handicap-accessible voting machines will still be available at all polling places and absentee offices. All polling places in the state are required to be Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Voters with qualifying disabilities may also apply for an absentee ballot.
Rep. Matt Simpson, R-Daphne, said that the bill aims to ensure ballot custody by keeping ballots in the hands of voters and would codify the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“We ensure that each vote is counted, accurately, honestly independently from any poll worker or third party,” Simpson said.
During the 2016 election, some local officials tried to put curbside voting in place. Secretary of State Merrill blocked those efforts. Eventually, the case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld Merrill’s ruling.
Republicans are arguing that the elections need to be as secure as possible, while some Democrats argue that the process should be as easy as possible so that more people can participate in the voting process.
Rep. Napoleon Bracy, D-Prichard, said he can’t understand why people are fighting so hard to stop people from being able to vote, and asked why a senior citizen can’t sit in their car and receive help to vote.
“I want to make sure that a poll worker does not have an opportunity, from the time that they receive the ballot, if they received the ballot at the car, have an opportunity to go to the polling machine and either change the ballot, fill in some things that were not there,” Simpson said.
The bill passed the House on a 74 to 25 vote and the Senate 25 to 6.
Allen has announced that he is a candidate for the Republican nomination for secretary of state. Merrill is term-limited from running for another term. Curbside voting was already banned administratively. This codifies that into Alabama law.