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Alabama House passes bill to ban curbside voting

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday passed a bill that would ban curbside voting in the state.

HB 285 is sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy); it is the companion bill to SB 235, which was given a favorable report by the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee two weeks ago. SB 235 is sponsored by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook).

Alabama law does not currently provide for curbside voting, however, the practice is also not explicitly barred.

This past year, that unclarity led to multiple rounds of litigation when Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall deemed the practice illegal while activists pushed to have curbside voting instituted at the last minute in certain counties.

“Alabama law does not and has never provided for curbside voting,” said Marshall ahead of November’s general election.

SB 235 would definitively end the debate on the matter for future election cycles.

Roberts during the recent committee meeting emphasized that the ban on curbside voting would protect the privacy of each individual vote and the security of each ballot.

The House passed HB 285 as amended in a party-line 74-25 vote. Rep. Rod Scott (D-Fairfield) abstained. Allen was not able to attend due to testing positive for COVID-19, so Rep. Matt Simpson (R-Daphne) carried the bill on Thursday, which was the 16th day of the 2021 regular session.

Democrats during debate argued that a ban on curbside voting could impede Alabamians with disabilities from participating in elections. Simpson rebutted that polling places are required to be ADA-compliant and that absentee voting is also an option.

HB 285 now heads to the Senate. Next week is the legislative spring break.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn