Alabama Senate committee approves changes to absentee ballot bill

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 7:58 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - A state Senate committee approved significant changes to a bill that will criminalize assistance on absentee ballots. Alabama doesn’t have widespread cases of voter fraud, and Republicans say this will keep things that way.

“We heard from people who are disabled and blind and so we wanted to make sure we didn’t do anything to hinder them in the process of voting,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Colbert County.

Changes to Kiel’s bill include allowing someone who is blind, disabled or unable to read or write to receive help on their absentee ballot from anyone. If someone is not disabled, the only allowed help is from a family member or election official.

“The people that we listed are people that should be trusted,” said Kiel.

The new version of the bill also removes the word “distributing” from the prohibited actions related to absentee ballots. Grassroots voting organizations will still be able to hand out absentee ballots. Instead, ordering, requesting, collecting or pre-filling someone’s ballot would be a misdemeanor, but someone could still be charged with a felony if money is involved.

“The voting process is very important. I mean, we take it very seriously in Alabama, how we vote and who votes,” said Kiel.

“We found out from this voter fraud reform task force is that we do not have these overwhelming cases of voter fraud in Alabama,” said Sen. Merika Coleman, D-Jefferson County.

The bill now moves to the Senate body for a possible vote. Then it would go back to the House for it to be official.

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