Alabama Senate committee passes bills to change state voter registration, rules
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Two House bills include minor changes to the state voter registration and rules, but supporters say they are needed to make the processes as easy as possible. The bills received a favorable report from the Fiscal Responsibility and Economic Development Senate Committee.
The bills are said to improve the process by stopping certain practices from happening.
The first bill would prevent poll watchers from helping someone submit their ballot. Supporters say that’s because watchers represent parties or candidates, and poll workers are impartial.
The other legislation will help stop confusion around voter registration.
“In one of our counties, a resident had been deceased since 1916 but still voted,” said Rep. Debbie Wood, sponsor of HB63.
While the vote didn’t count, Wood says third-party groups that send out pre-filled voter registration applications are to blame.
“We want to be sure that we know we’re going to watch them, and we’re going to penalize them when they take away someone’s right to vote,” she said.
The groups use voter registration lists, which are often old, to send out the applications, telling people to sign them in order to vote.
“In many cases, those are mailed to people that are already eligible voters, or in many cases, they’re mailed to people who are no longer eligible to be registered voters,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.
“It brings up negative feelings for the family member that receives this application, and then they start to think and lose confidence in our election,” said Clay Helms with the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.
Merrill says this causes confusion before voters even get to the polls.
“We just get complaints from people all the time especially during election cycles when it’s getting close to election time when these are generated and it’s causing confusion,” he said.
The Alabama American Civil Liberties Union had no comment on the bills. The legislation could come up for a floor vote in the final passage before the week is over.
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