ACLU pushing lawmakers to include more ways for Alabamians to vote early

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Could Alabama voters have even more ways to vote in the next election?  That what some lawmakers and civil rights activists are hoping for.  

The ACLU of Alabama is pushing for lawmakers to make permanent, changes put in place this year that allowed more voters to vote absentee mail-in and absentee vote-in-person during the November general election.  

“In 37 states, including our neighbors in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and Louisiana, state law does permit early, in-person voting options,” JaTaune Bosby, Executive Director of the ACLU in Alabama, said. “Thirty-four of those state do not require an excuse for absentee or by mail.”

Bosby said more than 330,00 Alabamians requested absentee ballots for the general election.  She is already working with some Democratic lawmakers to pre-file bills for the next legislative session to expand voting in Alabama.

However,  with a Republican controlled legislature, Bosby knows she has an uphill battle. But it’s a battler she says is worth fighting.

“I don’t there’s anyone who can say there’s not a need to expand voting and turn out voters in the state,” Bosby said.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says he’s all for looking at what’s working and not working when it comes to voting in the state.  But says those in favor of expanding voting options due to record turnout are not looking at the whole picture.

“In the run-off in 2012, we have 4% of our people go to the polls. Four! in 2014 we had 11% of our people go. In 2016 we 12% of our people go. So, they don’t remember that,” Merrill said.

Merrill is currently touring the state meeting with probate judge and elections officials to discuss improvements that can be made to the state’s voting system.  Once he’s done, Merrill says he will send any recommendations to lawmakers.


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