During the 1960s, Alabama was at the center of the fight for voting rights yet today, six decades later, it’s still one of the most difficult places to register to vote and cast a ballot. As other states have evolved policies for early voting, voter registration, and vote-by-mail, a report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows pretty much the opposite in Alabama.
In 2013, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder gutted Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Alabama implemented laws and policies that suppress the vote. Let’s take a quick look at reasons it’s so hard to vote in Alabama:
- Absentee voting, or vote by mail, is only allowed for voters who have an excuse such as out-of-county travel, long work shifts, military service, or incarceration.
- Alabama does not offer in-person early voting which is kind of crazy since 39 of 50 states offer some form of early voting.
- Long lines and errors at polling sites.
- Passing a strict voter ID law
- Closing polling places in predominantly Black counties
- Purging hundreds of thousands of people from voter rolls
- A fragmented backend system - Alabama’s election administration system is scattered across the secretary of state, county probate judges, county board of registrars, and poll workers.
- Political leaders in Alabama have fueled myths of voter fraud.
- In 2017 Alabama passed legislation to clarify crimes that disenfranchise people convicted of a felony, but there was no effort to educate people of the changes.
- People who can have their voting rights restored find a complex application process compounded by the fact that many must pay all their legal bills before they can register to vote – which is essentially impossible for many low-income people.
With Election Day right around the corner, the most important thing you can do is make a plan to vote. Since very few registered voters qualify for absentee voting, most Alabamians will be voting in-person on Election Day. Here’s what you need to know.
How to Vote in Alabama:
- Confirm your registration information. Visit this website to confirm your registration status, ballot status, polling location, and address.
- Alabama polling places are open 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Remember, if you’re in line at 7:00 p.m. you are allowed to cast your ballot, so don’t leave!
- Once inside you’ll provide your name to a poll worker and present an acceptable form of photo ID. Acceptable forms of ID are listed here.
- Sign a poll list.
- Cast your vote! Remember, if you make a mistake in marking your ballot, you are allowed to request a replacement ballot from a poll worker.
In-person COVID Precautions
- Maintain social distance of at least 6-feet between yourself and others
- Screen yourself for any new symptoms of COVID-19
- Bring your own pen and hand sanitizer
- Disinfect your hands upon entering and leaving the polling station
- Wear a face mask
Just because you live in a state where it’s more difficult to vote, shouldn’t keep you from showing up. This is a very important and exciting time to get involved in our political process and let your voice be heard. Make a plan to vote with friends and enjoy the process! Be sure to read our Election Day Guide for ideas of what to bring and how to prepare.
Let’s #IGNITEthevote together!