MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday passed six bills related to elections.
This included HB 167, sponsored by Rep. Chris Blackshear (R-Phenix City) and Senate Majority Leader Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville). This bill would comprehensively prohibit an individual from voting multiple times in a single election.
Under current state law, it is already illegal to vote more than once in Alabama in the same election; however, it is not currently a violation of state law for someone to vote in the state of Alabama even if they have voted in another state in the same election, such as a presidential election. HB 167 would close that loophole, with Scofield emphasizing that the core ideal of “one person, one vote” must be safeguarded.
“The safety and security of our elections is a priority issue for a majority of Alabamians right now,” he added. “It is up to us lawmakers to reassure our constituents that elections in this state are as secure as possible, and we must pledge to do what we can to guarantee our voting laws reflect a protected election process.”
The 27-4 Senate vote on HB 167 was bipartisan, with Sens. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton) and Linda Coleman-Madison (D-Birmingham) joining most Republicans in supporting the bill. Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), Sen. Kirk Hatcher (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Atmore) voted against HB 167.
The floor debate was markedly calmer than the uproar the bill caused in the House earlier this session. HB 167 now heads back to the lower chamber for concurrence or nonconcurrence. Concurrence would send the bill to the governor’s desk, while nonconcurrence would trigger a conference committee.
“Concerns surrounding voter fraud are exceptionally valid,” Scofield said. “The people of Alabama want to have confidence in our election system – and so do our legislators. The bills passed today in the Senate help to address the mutual concerns we all share regarding the fairness and integrity of our elections, and I thank our members for their diligent work on these issues.”
The five other elections bills passed by the Senate on Thursday each were approved unanimously. This included the following pieces of legislation:
HB 388, sponsored by Sen. Dan Roberts (R-Mountain Brook) and Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills), would require the implementation date of any legislation affecting conduct of the General Election to be at least six months prior.
HB 538, sponsored by Sen. Chris Elliott (R-Daphne) and Rep. Alan Baker (R-Brewton), would update absentee ballot application deadlines to accommodate for delays with the Postal Service and allows for the opening of absentee ballots at 7:00 a.m. on Election Day to allow for the timely processing of ballots.
HB 312, sponsored by Sen. Will Barfoot (R-Pike Road) and Rep. David Wheeler (R-Vestavia Hills), to allow precinct election officials who are registered to vote in a given county to serve in any precinct in that county.
HB 116, sponsored by Sen. Billy Beasley (D-Clayton) and Rep. David Standridge (R-Hayden), to authorize a one-time post-election pilot audit by after 2022 General Election by the Secretary of State to determine the correctness of the originally reported outcome of the election.
HB 154, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham) and Rep. Andy Whitt (R-Harvest), would require municipal candidates to file campaign finance reports with the Secretary of State, consistent with state and county candidates.
“There are few pillars of our democracy more important than the security of our elections. Free and fair elections, conducted in a secure manner, are a hallmark of our country, and serve as a defender of the freedoms that we enjoy as Americans,” stated Senate Pro Tem Greg Reed (R-Jasper). “The bills that passed this chamber today send a strong message: the Senate is committed to protecting Alabama’s strong election laws.”
Roberts remarked, “It is critically important to our democratic process that the people of our state and nation have confidence that the electoral process is safe, secure and fair. That is why I have worked to pass these measures in the Senate.”
“To maintain our status as the greatest country and strongest democracy in the world, it is important that we have the fairest and most secure election process as we possibly can. Maintaining the integrity of our electoral process will continue to be something that I fight for in the Senate on behalf of the people of Alabama,” he continued.
Roberts on Thursday also carried HB 285 in the Senate. That bill, which is sponsored by Rep. Wes Allen (R-Troy) and would ban curbside voting in the state, was carried over to the call of the chair after Democrats began filibustering.
Thursday was the 25th day of the legislature’s 2021 regular session.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn