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Alabama voters approve new constitution, 10 amendments on ballot

In a historic result, voters overwhelmingly approved a recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.

A section of a sample ballot showing 2022 constitutional proposals and amendments.

In a historic result, voters overwhelmingly approved a recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, allowing for the archaic and racist language used within the colossal document to be removed and outdated provisions and sections to be updated and edited.

Aside from the approval of a new constitution, Alabamians also approved all ten constitutional amendments on the 2022 US Midterm ballot related to broadband infrastructure, the state justice system, and other areas.

Constitution of Alabama of 2022

Results: 886,270 “Yes”, 272,384 “No”

The state constitution, often cited as the largest constitution in the world, contains within it overtly racist language and many outdated provisions or amendments rendered obsolete by past legislation. The allowance of slavery as a form of punishment, a ban on interracial marriage, and other instances of white supremacist belief present within the document will be removed.

Editing for duplicates of amendments, the sorting of local amendments by county, and other formatting changing will be included in the new version of the state constitution.

Amendment 1: “Aniah’s Law”

Result: 1,018,004 “Yes”, 246,919 “No”

Where previously, the denial of bail only extended to individuals charged with capitol offenses, now individuals charged with violent crimes, including murder, domestic violence, human trafficking, and assault, among others, can be refused bail after a hearing by a judge.

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The bill unanimously passed both chambers of the Alabama State Legislature during the 2021 regular legislative session. The law is named for Aniah Blanchard, a 19-year-old who was abducted and killed in 2019 outside a Chevron in Auburn. Ibrahim Yazeed, the individual charged in Blanchard’s abduction and murder, was out on bond for a previous gun-related crime.

Amendment 2: Broadband expansion

Result: 937,436 “Yes,” 255,874 “No”

As part of the state’s ongoing process of expanding broadband internet into rural settings around the state, this amendment allows for federal American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA funds, to be used as incentives to recruit broadband companies into communities in Alabama.

Amendment 3: Notification when commuting death sentences

Result: 991,893 “Yes”, 219,301 “No”

The Alabama governor is now required under this amendment to notify the Alabama Attorney General and attempt to notify the victim’s family when commuting a death sentence to life in prison.

No Alabama governor since Fob James has commuted a death sentence, with James doing so in the case of Judith Ann Neeley, who had been charged and sentenced to death in the murder and are of a 13-year-old girl named Lisa Ann Millican in the early 1980s.

Amendment 4: Concerning election laws

Result: 935,476 “Yes,” 234,452 “No”

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The Alabama state legislature now has a time limit when passing election-related laws, giving elected officials in Montgomery roughly a month to do so during presidential election years. This requires such legislation to be enacted at least six months before an election, or by the first week of May each year.

Amendment 5: “Orphans’ business”

Result: 778,586 “Yes,” 354,527 “No”

As approved by the voting populace, this edits out constitutional language that limits a probate judge’s ability to rule in cases of “orphans’ business” and is meant as a revision of such language. Its creation was done in collaboration with the Alabama Law Institute.

Amendment 6: Use of ad valorem taxes

Results: 674,971 “Yes”, 436,812 “No”

The use of Ad valorem taxes, which typically take the form of property taxes, by certain cities was previously restricted to only using the revenue generated to pay off debt. Now, places such as Hunstville or Birmingham can use the tax revenue to pay for projects.

This amendment had the slightest margin of approval out of all ten provisions.

Amendment 7: Economic development for county governments

Result: 832,667 “Yes”, 271,467 “No”

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This clears up language related to economic development by county governments and the framework provided by a previous amendment that caused several counties in the past, covered by a separate amendment, to have to go before a judge to receive permission to use federal funds in recruiting new businesses to their areas. The amendment seeks to de-confuse the process for other counties who aren’t sure if they are covered under the former amendment.

Amendment 8 and Amendment 9: Private sewer systems

Results: 685,048 “Yes”, 272,284 “No” for Amendment 8; 681,441 “Yes, 272,372 “No” for Amendment 9.

Both of these amendments deal directly with proposed private sewage systems in Tuscaloosa, Shelby, and Jefferson counties, with the systems to be controlled by the Public Service Commission, and, per Amendment 9, the PSC will regulate private sewer systems in Lake View for four years.

Amendment 10: Amendments to the new recompiled Constitution

Results: 814,598 “Yes,” 278,284 “No”

Each previous amendment listed will be added to the Alabama Constitution of 2022 as recompiled. This amendment was required if the constitutional proposal passed, which it did.

 

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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