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Ivey signs “ballot harvesting” bill into law

The legislation went into effect immediately with Ivey’s signature.

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On Wednesday Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that criminalizes certain forms of assistance for absentee ballot voting. The legislation went into effect immediately with Ivey’s signature.

Under the bill, SB1, an individual who knowingly pays for assistance in completing or submitting the absentee ballot will be charged with a Class B felony. And an individual who accepts payment to assist or complete an absentee ballot will be charged with a Class C felony. Republicans have touted the bill as a successful measure to combat ballot harvesting. 

After Ivey signed the bill into law she thanked Secretary of State Wes Allen and the legislature for working on the legislation and prioritizing election integrity. 

“Here in Alabama, we are committed to ensuring our elections are free and fair,” Ivey said. “I commend Secretary of State Wes Allen, as well as members of the Alabama Legislature for making election security a priority, and I am proud to officially sign Senate Bill 1 into law. Under my watch, there will be no funny business in Alabama elections.”

However, there has been no official data to indicate how much of an issue ballot harvesting is in the state, merely anecdotal accounts. APR spoke to Allen about the bill and asked the secretary of state why no one has produced any data for this problem.

Allen said that there was no data because the law prior to SB1 being signed had no clear penalty provisions to prosecute individuals that were accused of harvesting ballots.

“There was no way there was nobody being prosecute because the law that we amended, the penalty provisioning was very vague,” Allen said.

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The League of Women Voters released a statement after Ivey signed the bill into law saying the bill was an act of voter suppression and would harm the ability of individuals with disabilities to cast absentee ballots.

“Voters deserve equal and fair access to the ballot, including the option to vote by absentee ballot, and many Alabama voters with disabilities rely on the help of neighbors and voter assistance organizations to successfully cast their absentee ballot. SB1 and bills like it are just another form of voter suppression that do nothing to protect the ‘integrity’ of our elections but do a great deal to make it harder for voters with disabilities to cast their ballot. Voter assistance is not a crime and should not be treated as such. The League of Women Voters of Alabama believes the state should be making it easier for people to vote, especially people with disabilities, and we will continue to fight unjust laws like SB1.” 

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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