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New calendar for many Alabama municipal elections; Goal is that ‘citizens will be energized to vote’

Legislation aimed at increasing voter participation in municipal elections is among the state’s new laws this year.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills) and Rep. Jim Hill (R-Moody) has moved nearly all elections in Alabama’s cities and towns off the presidential election cycle where they have resided on the calendar since 1984.

The Alabama League of Municipalities (ALM) estimates that the revisions to the law will place 97% of the state’s cities and towns on a new election calendar.

Greg Cochran, ALM executive director, said his organization supports the changes and believes it will create a more efficient election process for cities and towns.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank Governor Ivey for signing SB-119 into law,” Cochran said in a statement to Yellowhammer News. “Additionally, I would like to thank Senator Waggoner and Representative Hill for their sponsorship and unwavering support of municipal government throughout the years.”
He continued, “This new law will improve the current process for municipal elections and further strengthen the democratic process by moving municipal elections off the national election cycle. Municipalities are the foundation of our state’s economy, and it is imperative that citizens be actively involved in selecting their local leaders. It is our hope that through these legislative revisions, citizens will be energized to vote in their local elections.”

Cities and towns affected by the new law will hold their next elections in August 2025 and will hold elections every four years thereafter. Candidate qualifying has moved from July to June with the goal of providing more time for confirmation of a candidate’s eligibility. Additionally, elections runoffs have been shortened from six weeks to four weeks which mirrors runoffs in state and county elections.

One issue the legislation had to address was the fact that four-year terms are currently being served by mayors and council members across the state. To avoid any constitutional problems, the legislation grants a one-time extension of current terms by 12 months to line those terms up with a 2025 election.

Municipalities not affected by the new law include Auburn, Bessemer, Dothan, Gadsden, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Mountain Brook, Scottsboro, Talladega and Tuscaloosa.

Tim Howe is an owner of Yellowhammer Multimedia

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