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Ballot harvesting crackdown passes Alabama House

Alabama lawmakers advanced legislation to make it a crime for organizers and activists to accept payment for handling absentee ballot applications of non-family members. It also makes it a crime for corporations or nonprofit organizations to pay people to harvest ballots in Alabama.

Governor Kay Ivey announced her support for the proposal in her 2024 State of the State address. Secretary of State Wes Allen, who oversees elections in the state, has driven the effort going back to the 2023 legislative session.

Senate Bill 1, prioritized by Senate leaders with consideration and approval last month, is sponsored by State Senator Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman). It was carried in the Alabama House of Representatives by Rep. Jamie Kiel (R-Russellville).

“This bill makes it illegal to pay or receive payment to assist voters in completing an absentee ballot application, known commonly as ballot harvesting. This bill would prevent absentee ballot brokers and third parties from manipulating the absentee ballot process and from intimidating or confusing voters,” Rep. Kiel said.

“This bill does not change voter registration outreach efforts in the state.”

RELATED: Alabama Senate passes bill to outlaw ballot harvesting – ‘easy to vote and hard to cheat’

Democrats strongly opposed this legislation.

“Here we are again this year with another bill that deals with absentee voting,” said Rep. Sellers (D-Birmingham). “I think this bill creates a problem out of thin air and then impressively fails to address it. It is almost like when people don’t have information, they use their imagination and it seems like the use of imagination has been a national thing especially dealing with this absentee voting.”

The House adopted a substitute version of the bill that was prepared by the House Committee on Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections. It also adopted an amendment to the bill.

RELATED: Allen: Harvest crops, not ballots, in Alabama

The bill passed the House of Representatives along party lines in a 75 to 28 vote. The Alabama Republican Party released a statement praising the Legislature for advancing this legislation.

The Alabama Republican Party wrote in a statement, “SB1 – Protecting Election Integrity: Sponsored by Senator Garlan Gudger, SB1 fortifies election integrity by reforming the Absentee Voting process to guarantee the security and integrity of every ballot, ensuring that no one’s vote is lost or stolen.”

Because of changes made in the House the bill now has to go back to the Senate for them to consider the House changes.

This week, the Alabama Legislature on a regularly-scheduled spring break, set to return March 19.

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