The Wire

  • Black Bear Sightings Continue to Increase in Alabama

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    Add Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and St. Clair counties to the growing list of black bear sightings in Alabama in 2018. In recent years, bears have also been recorded in Chambers, Elmore, Jefferson, Lee, Macon and Tallapoosa counties. These recent sightings are more evidence of the state’s expanding black bear population.

    Biologists from the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources say the increase in sightings may be due to a combination of factors including changes in bear distribution, habitat fragmentation, seasonal movement and the summer mating season. However, most spring and summer bear sightings are of juvenile males being pushed out of their previous ranges by their mothers and other adult males.

    Historically, a small population of black bears have remained rooted in Mobile and Washington counties. Baldwin, Covington and Escambia counties on the Florida border host yet another population of bears. In northeast Alabama, bears migrating from northwest Georgia have established a small but viable population.

    “While seeing a black bear in Alabama is uncommon and exciting, it is no cause for alarm,” said Marianne Hudson, Conservation Outreach Specialist for the Alabama Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF). “There has never been a black bear attack on a human in Alabama.”

    Black bears are typically secretive, shy animals that will avoid human interaction. Occasionally, a curious bear will explore a human-populated area in search of food.

    “If you are lucky enough to see a bear, simply leave it alone,” Hudson said.

  • Rep. Byrne Releases Statement on Russia

    From a Bradley Byrne news release:

    Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, this morning in Helsinki.

    Congressman Byrne said: “I applaud President Trump’s decision to start a dialogue with President Putin and I’m glad he is making it a priority. However, we must remember that Russia is not an ally – economically or militarily. They are an adversary. The United States should not tolerate actions by the Russians that intervene in our domestic affairs or pose a threat to our national security.”

  • Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Season Closes July 22

    Excerpt from an Outdoor Alabama news release:

    The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Marine Resources Division (MRD) announces the closure of Alabama state waters to the harvest of red snapper by private anglers and state-licensed commercial party boats at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, July 22, 2018. The quota of 984,291 pounds issued under NOAA Fisheries’ Alabama Recreational Red Snapper Exempted Fishing Permit (EFP) is expected to be met by the closure date.

    “Alabama anglers fished extremely hard on the good weather days during the season,” said Marine Resources Director Scott Bannon. “That level of effort, coupled with larger average-sized fish harvested this year as compared to last year, resulted in a daily harvest rate two times higher than 2017, which prompted an earlier than anticipated closure.

    “The purpose of the EFP was to demonstrate Alabama’s ability to establish a season and monitor landings within a fixed quota and I think we have shown we can do that,” said Bannon.

    Anglers are reminded of the following:

    — Possession of red snapper in Alabama waters while state waters are closed is prohibited regardless of where the fish were harvested.
    — Alabama anglers may fish in federal waters off the coast of Alabama (outside of 9 nm) and land in a state that is open to the landing of red snapper, but they must adhere to the open state’s rules and not transit in Alabama state waters with red snapper on board.
    — The season for federally-permitted charter for-hire vessels will close at 12:01 a.m. July 22.

10 months ago

Extremely Low Voter Turnout In Alabama’s Senate Run-off

(Photo: Flickr)

As many pundits noted before last night’s election, Luther Strange needed a large turnout to win the runoff vote against Roy Moore in the Republican primary. Despite visits from President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, that didn’t happen and Roy Moore’s core base of ardent supporters more than carried the day.

While today’s news cycle has no shortage of speculation over why Moore won and why Strange lost, one thing is abundantly clear, the vast majority of Alabama’s voters didn’t bother to show up.

According to information on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, only 14.39% of registered voters cast a ballot yesterday. That’s more than three percentage points lower than the meager 17.95% who turned out in the primary. Yes, runoff votes usually attract less attention, as do off-year elections and special elections.

Still, last night’s dismal turnout is particularly intriguing in light of the fact that the whole nation seemed hyper-focused on this race. Whether or not low voter turnout delivered the victory to Roy Moore is unclear, but what does seem obvious as the smoke clears today is that the media and a very small minority of engaged citizens cared far more about this race than most Alabama voters.

12 months ago

Alabama Limits Crossover Voting

Alabama has a new law that stops crossover voting in the upcoming elections. The idea behind the law is to prevent voters from crossing from one party to another and deliberately changing the outcome of the other party’s races.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Secretary of State John Merrill said the legislation his office is charged implementing was proposed by Senator Tom Whatley and Representative Arnold Mooney. The new law states:

“If an elector votes in a primary election, he or she may vote in a subsequent primary runoff election only if he or she voted in the primary election of the same political party for which the runoff election is being held. For those persons who did not vote in a Primary Election, they may choose either party’s ballot in a Primary Run-Off Election.”

For instance, someone who votes in the Republican party’s primary election cannot turn around and vote in the Democratic party’s run-off. That person would have to vote in the Republican runoff.

In the past, cross party voting has been prohibited, but this is the first time that the state has implemented this particular law. The law went into effect July 1 and will, therefore, be in force during the August 15 special election, if a run off is required. The law will not affect the general election scheduled for December 12.

12 months ago

New Alabama Law Makes It Easier for Past Felons to Vote, but D.C. Activists Says It’s Not Enough

Voting booths (Photo: Flickr)

Tuesday afternoon, a Washington D.C. based public interest group will ask a federal judge to force the state of Alabama to reinstate voting rights to some convicted felons immediately. The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is hoping that Judge Keith Watkins will grant an injunction requiring Secretary of State John Merrill to educate these felons on their newly-gained right to vote.

The case comes after Governor Kay Ivey signed HB 282 in May, listing 46 felonies that will cause an otherwise eligible voter to lose their right to vote. These 46 felonies include murder, drug trafficking, and other violent crimes. Previously, the state restricted the voting rights of anyone who committed “crimes of moral turpitude.” However, until May, the definition of this standard has been hotly disputed.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill explained to Yellowhammer that, previously, there was no clear definition for moral turpitude. As a result, different voter registrars interpreted the term’s meaning differently, creating inconsistent rules with who was allowed to vote and who wasn’t—all depending on how individual registrars interpreted the term.

“After I became Secretary of State, I set out to fix this,” Merrill said. To that end, he assembled a study committee with a large cross-section of experts that met for nine months, seeking the most sensible ways to reassimilate those who’d paid for their crimes. The bill Governor Ivey just signed into law was the result of that effort, and Merrill believes it’s created a far more equitable set of rules.

“We’re thrilled because we clearly defined moral turpitude and gave registrars a list of the crimes associated with that designation, so now they know who can register and who can’t. As a result, our new law ensures that no one’s rights are being violated because we have a straightforward process by which past offenders can have their voting privileges restored.  My ultimate goal is to ensure that every eligible U.S. citizen that’s a resident of Alabama is registered to vote and has a photo ID, and this law does that.”

Nevertheless, The CLC hopes to force Merrill to do more. They claim that many felons who are now eligible to vote do not even know that the new legislation has been passed. The CLC hopes the court will force Secretary Merrill to include the updated eligibility requirements on voter registration forms, and the website.

1 year ago

Alabama Senate passes bill that would make it easier to vote absentee

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Late last week, the Alabama Senate approved a bill that would decrease the restrictions on who can receive an absentee ballot. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rodger Smitherman (D-Birmingham), passed 25-3 and now heads to the Alabama House of Representatives.

Currently, an Alabama voter seeking an absentee ballot must sign an sworn statement certifying that they have a “legitimate reason” for not being able to vote at the polls. The reasons that are legally allowed include being out of town on election day, having a physical incapacitation, working as long as the polls are open, attending college in another country, or serving as a member -or being a dependent of someone who is – in the U.S. Armed Forces in another country.

The law also requires that either two witnesses or a notary public sign the sworn statement.

Smitherman’s bill would eliminate both of those requirements. However, it would impose a new one: voters would be required to provide a copy of their voter ID with their application for a ballot.

The Birmingham Democrat originally got the idea for proposed changes after suggestions from Secretary of State John Merrill (R-Ala.). To this point, the bill has received bipartisan support.

Merrill told that he believes the bill will both increase voter participation and strengthen protections against voter fraud. “The only instances of voter fraud that we’ve identified in the state have to do with absentee ballots,” said Merrill.

In 2016, Alabama’s voter turnout was the third highest in the state’s history at 61.97 percent. The highest voter turnout ever recorded occurred in 2008, when it hit 72.8 percent.

2 years ago

An Alabama voters’ quick guide to state amendments on the Nov. ballot

A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)
A woman prepares to vote in 2006. (Photo: Nathaniel Shepard)

When Alabama voters head to the polls on November 8th, they won’t just be electing a president; they will approve or reject 14 Constitutional amendments. If you need help navigating issues on the ballot, check out our guide below.

Amendment 1

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to establish procedures to ensure that no more than three of the members of the Auburn University Board of Trustees shall have terms that expire in the same calendar year and to add two additional at-large members to the board to enhance diversity on the board.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 1 adds two new board members to the Auburn University Board of Trustees, and also ensures that the terms of no more than three members’ terms will expire at the same time.

Amendment 2

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any monies from the State Parks Fund, the Parks Revolving Fund, or any fund receiving revenues currently deposited in the State Parks Fund or the Parks Revolving Fund, and any monies currently designated pursuant to statute for the use of the state parks system from being transferred for another purpose other than the support, upkeep, and maintenance of the state parks system.”

“Notwithstanding, in the event that guest revenues to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceed the threshold of $50 million (as annually adjusted based on increases in the consumer price index) in a fiscal year, the sales and use and cigarette tax revenue distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be reduced in the following fiscal year. The amount of the reduction shall correspond to the amount of guest revenue to the State Parks Revolving Fund exceeding the threshold. The amount of tax revenue not distributed to benefit the State Parks System shall be distributed to the General Fund.”

“Proposing an amendment to Amendment 617 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to allow the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the option to provide for the operation and management, by non-state entities, of hotels, golf courses, and restaurants at any applicable state parks in Alabama.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 2 restricts the state legislature from dipping into funds generated by state parks. It would constitutionally require that monies be spent on maintaining those parks, unless revenues top $50 million annually.

Amendment 3

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to revise the procedure for adoption of local constitutional amendments to provide that a proposed constitutional amendment the Legislature determines without a dissenting vote applies to only one county or a political subdivision within one or more counties shall be adopted as a valid part of the constitution by a favorable vote of a majority of the qualified electors of the affected county or the political subdivision and county or counties in which the political subdivision is located, who vote on the amendment.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 3 institutes a new procedure to determine whether a constitutional amendment should be voted on by the entire state or by the affected community only.

Amendment 4

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize each county commission in the state to establish, subject to certain limitations, certain programs related to the administration of the affairs of the county.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 4 would expand local power by giving counties the ability to create new policies that apply to public transportation, road safety, emergency assistance, and personnel. It does not give county officials any new power or compensation. This amendment also prohibits new taxes, fees or programs from being instituted that would hinder a landowner’s legal rights to use their property, with the exception of legislative intervention.

Amendment 5

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal and restate the provisions of Article III of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 relating to separation of powers to modernize the language without making any substantive change, effective January 1, 2017.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 5 cleans up and updates outdated terminology in Article III of the state constitution.

Amendment 6

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to become operative January 1, 2017, to repeal and replace Article VII, Impeachments.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 6 would require a two-thirds vote of the Alabama Senate to impeach a public official, and subjects members of the Board of Education to impeachment. It does not change the reasons why an elected official can be impeached.

Amendment 7 (Local)

What it says: “Relating to Etowah County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that the employees of the Office of Sheriff of Etowah County, except for the chief deputy, chief of detention, chief of administration, chief of investigation, director of communications, and food service manager, shall be under the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 7 would only apply to Etowah County, and make certain county employees subject to the authority of the Personnel Board of the Office of the Sheriff of Etowah County.

Amendment 8

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to declare that it is the public policy of Alabama that the right of persons to work may not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an agreement to deny the right to work, or place conditions on prospective employment, on account of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization; to prohibit an employer from requiring its employees to abstain from union membership as a condition of employment; and to provide that an employer may not require a person, as a condition of employment or continuation of employment, to pay dues, fees, or other charges of any kind to any labor union or labor organization.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 8 would solidify the state’s “right-to-work” status into the constitution, making it difficult in the future for unions to force membership on Alabama workers as a condition of employment.

Amendment 9 (Local)

What it says: “Relating to Pickens County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person who is not over the age of 75 at the time of qualifying for election or at the time of his or her appointment may be elected or appointed to the office of Judge of Probate of Pickens County.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 9 applies to Pickens County only. It would allow a Probate Judge to serve until the age of 75 (the current age is 70).

Amendment 10 (Local)

What it says: “Relating to Calhoun County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that any territory located in the county would be subject only to the police jurisdiction and planning jurisdiction of a municipality located wholly or partially in the county.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 10 applies to Calhoun County only. If passed, it would prevent any city or town not in or partially in Calhoun from exercising jurisdiction over any area of the county.

Amendment 11

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to permit cities and counties, notwithstanding any existing constitutional restrictions, to utilize tax increment district revenues collected within a Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone and other moneys to incentivize the establishment and improve various types of manufacturing facilities located or to be located in such Zone, and to validate and confirm the Major 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, Act No. 2013-51.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 11 allows cities and counties to sell government-owned land within a certain type of development zone below fair market value for the purpose of economic development.

Amendment 12 (Local)

What it says: “Relating to municipalities in Baldwin County; proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature by general or local law to provide for any municipalities in the county to incorporate a toll road and bridge authority as a public corporation in the municipality for the construction and operation of toll roads and bridges in the municipality and to authorize the authority to issue revenue bonds to finance the projects.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 12 allows the legislature to create a toll and bridge authority for a city or town in Baldwin County. The authority would have the power to finance its projects and accept funding from state or local governments.

Amendment 13

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to repeal any existing age restriction on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official, with the exception of persons elected or appointed to a judicial office, currently imposed by a provision of the Constitution or other law; and to prohibit the Legislature from enacting any law imposing a maximum age limitation on the appointment, election, or service of an appointed or elected official.”

In a nutshell: Amendment 13 eliminates maximum age restrictions that currently apply to the election or appointment of non-judicial elected officials.

Amendment 14

What it says: “Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Amendment 448 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 71.01 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to ratify, approve, validate, and confirm the application of any budget isolation resolution relating to a bill proposing a local law adopted by the Legislature before November 8, 2016, that conformed to the rules of either body of the Legislature at the time it was adopted.”

In a nutshell: Currently, legal questions over “budget isolation resolution” votes threaten a wide array of local laws. Amendment 14 seeks to protect the validity of over 500 local laws that have passed between 1984 and 2016, as long as they were approved using proper legislative rules at the time of their passage.

2 years ago

‘Voting Selfies’ illegal in Alabama


The selfie craze has infiltrated every area of life these days; even the realm of politics. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have taken selfies with their millennial supporters, many of whom will vote for the first time in 2016.

But when people step into the voting booth in Alabama on Nov. 8, they must leave the desire to take a behind…or else.

While voting selfies are expressly legal in 21 states and the District of Columbia, they are banned in Alabama. According to the legal researchers at Vox, absolutely no photos of ballots are allowed; voters have “a right to cast a ballot in secrecy and in private.”

In 13 other states, the practice of taking a voting booth selfie is considered “legally questionable.”

Voting selfie bans in New Hampshire and Indiana have been struck down by Federal judges for First Amendment reasons, and California and Rhode Island have since accordingly changed their regulations.

You can check out the full map of the states below.

(c/o Vox Media)
(c/o Vox Media)

(h/t Vox)

2 years ago

LAST CHANCE: Alabama voter registration deadline is today

Clinton, Trump pick up big wins
Today is Alabama’s deadline for those wishing to register to vote in the Nov. 8 general election. To become a registered voter in Alabama, a person must be 18 years old on or before election day, be a United States citizen, reside in Alabama and have an Alabama driver’s license or Alabama non-driver ID. Those convicted of disqualifying felonies are disbarred from participating in the election, unless they have had their civil rights restored.

Applications can be filed in-person at each county’s Board of Registrars or electronically at

Many have registered this cycle already. In fact, Alabama has approximately 3.3 million registered voters; a number up 500,000 from the mid-term elections in 2014. However, others have procrastinated, and the secretary of state’s office told the Alabama News Network that it anticipates a surge in applications today.

“I think we’re going to continue to see people fill out applications, try and get registered. We anticipate the highest voter turnout in the state for this general election,” said Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R).

Alabama voters are also subject to the state’s voter ID law. Upon checking-in at their precinct, voters must present one of the pre-approved forms of identification, such as an Alabama driver’s license. If someone does not have one of the approved forms of ID, he or she may apply to get one from the state for free.

While the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton has gotten the lion’s share of the press, Alabama’s state government and various localities have important offices up for grabs as well. On the federal level, the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Richard Shelby (R) is in contention, as are the seats of Alabama’s seven U.S. House Representatives. Statewide, Alabamians will consider fourteen amendments to the state constitution that can be approved with a majority of the vote.

To see what issues are coming to a vote in your community, you can check out sample ballots on the Secretary of State’s website linked here.

2 years ago

Select Alabama counties to pilot iPad voting lists


25 Alabama counties are saying good-bye to paper and hello to digital as registered voters will check in via iPad for the first time this November. The change was initiated by Secretary of State John Merrill (R-Ala.), and the new system applies only to the checking-in process – not to the creation of the lists or the voting process itself. 38 states currently have similar programs and the iPad program trial will be funded by Federal dollars.

The program will get a pilot-run on Nov. 8 in Mobile, Baldwin, Henry, Barbour, Bullock, Autauga, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, DeKalb, Cherokee, Morgan, Blount, Jefferson, Chambers, Marengo, Hale, Lowndes, Shelby, Cleburne, Randolph, Houston, Cullman, Marion, and Winston counties.

One of the reasons Merrill has cited for the change is the increased turnout projections in 2016. The iPads, he argues, will speed up the process.

The Secretary of State’s office is also aware of electronic fraud concerns, and has taken steps to safeguard the system from potential issues. Merrill stated that he chose KNOWiNK to run the system because of its strong track record. However, he did ask the state’s election systems vendor to conduct a comprehensive review of the new operation. Election Systems & Software reported back that “No instances [of fraud] were found in Alabama’s systems.”

Even with the new change, Alabama citizens are still required to register to vote and must present a valid voter ID at the check-in station. Numerous documents, including a valid state driver’s license, meet the requirements of Alabama’s voter ID law. If a citizen does not have one of the valid pre-approved forms of identification, he or she can apply to get one free of charge from the Secretary of State’s office.

(h/t Alabama News Network)

2 years ago

Byrne: If you want to defeat Hillary, you must vote for Trump, no one else

U.S. Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1) was recently interviewed by Bob Grip, News anchor at Fox 10 / WALA-TV in Mobile about the 2016 Presidential race and state political issues. In that exchange, Rep. Byrne was asked a question received via Twitter which inquired, “Will Rep. Byrne endorse Donald Trump and take the moral stain on his reputation? His grandchildren will be embarrassed.” The congressman’s response was clear that he believes that anyone who wants to stop Hillary Clinton must vote for Donald Trump.

“Well, I’ve already endorsed Donald Trump. I do not consider it to be a stain on my reputation, certainly [not] on my grandchildren,” he said.

“Look this is a choice between two people: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he continued. “It’s not a choice between Hillary Clinton and somebody else. If you want to defeat Hillary Clinton you must vote for Donald Trump, not not vote or vote for somebody else.”

While he spent most of the interview highlighting the differences between Trump and Clinton, Byrne did note that he does have some disagreements with the Republican nominee.

“I think it’s a very clear difference between the two candidates,” he said. “I haven’t agreed with everything Mr. Trump has said, I haven’t agreed with every one of his policy positions. I have some big differences with him as a matter of fact.”

Ultimately, however, Byrne said that he will be voting for Trump in November “with a very clear conscience.”

The full interview with Bob Grip can be viewed below.

3 years ago

Bernie Sanders: Alabama Republicans are ‘cowards’ for implementing voter ID requirement

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Bernie Sanders
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who is running in the Democratic primary, declared via twitter Sunday that Republicans in Alabama are “cowards” for “suppressing” the votes of low income people, minorities, young people and seniors. This comes in response to the recent closure of 31 satellite Drivers’ License offices across Alabama. Sanders joins fellow Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in criticizing Republican leadership in Alabama and the GOP support for ID laws Clinton says makes voting harder for people of color and young people, two groups critical to her chances of winning the presidency, according to The Washington Post.

The closures have been met with criticism by the national media, Democrats, and voting rights advocates all across the country. On Friday, Bentley partially reversed the decision, saying that the offices would open in the affected areas once a month.

“To suggest the closure of the driver’s license offices is a racial issue is simply not true, and to suggest otherwise should be considered an effort to promote a political agenda,” said Bentley.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who is responsible for administering and overseeing elections, says there will still be multiple opportunities for people in every county to obtain an I.D. valid at the polling booth.

“The closure of 31 DMV offices will not leave citizens without a place to receive the required I.D. card to vote,” said Secretary Merrill. “All 67 counties in Alabama have a Board of Registrars that issue photo voter I.D. cards. If for some reason those citizens are not able to make it to the Board of Registrars, we’ll bring our mobile I.D. van and crew to that county. By October 31 our office will have brought the mobile I.D. van to every county in Alabama at least once.

Alabama’s new voter-ID law for both in-person and absentee voting went into effect last year and until now, hasn’t received negative feedback. Alabama has a total of 44 driver’s-license offices throughout the state. It also has 31 satellite offices that were open only part-time and that accounted for less than 5 percent of the driver’s licenses issued each year. Because of the budget passed by the state legislature, Alabama’s state government had to do away with limited resources. So the state government decided to close these satellite offices.

What all of the media and critics missed or deliberately ignored is that, in addition to being able to use a driver’s license to meet the voter-ID requirement, you can get a free voter ID in every single county in the state. In addition to DMV offices, the secretary of state offers free voter IDs in all 67 counties through the local election registrar.

“One of the most fundamental rights we as Americans are afforded is our right to vote,” says Secretary Merrill. “As Alabama’s Secretary of State and Chief Elections Official, I will do everything within my power to ensure every Alabamian is able to exercise their right to vote.”


3 years ago

Hillary relying on states like Alabama to secure Democratic nomination

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Hillary Clinton is now shifting her focus to Alabama and other Southern states in an attempt to potentially offset setbacks in the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary, where Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is slated to do very well, according the New York Times.

Clinton’s advisers are assuring supporters that strong victories in the South will help her clinch the nomination for president. In interviews with several publications, staffers said the campaign is devoting significant resources to win the “First in the South” South Carolina primary on February 27th, 2016, while also working to sweep Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia in the SEC Primary on March 1st.

The Southern Super Tuesday, new to the 2016 race, has greatly increased the importance of the southeastern states to presidential candidates as evidenced by the multiple visits from candidates courting the votes of Alabamians during the last few months. This consolidated election day now separates the South for the same reason that Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and other states receive national attention—momentum.

“There’s so much focus on Iowa and New Hampshire, but Secretary Clinton and her team know that the South will deliver a huge number of delegates that will essentially seal the nomination for her,” said DuBose Porter, the Georgia Democratic Party chairman and a Clinton supporter.

Clinton’s advisers anticipate these eight Southern primaries will provide hundreds of delegates for Clinton, which will add to the goal of approximately 2,200 delegates needed for Clinton to receive the nomination.

Clinton’s campaign is reportedly centered around building a “political firewall” across the South in hopes of attaining the Democratic nomination despite any potential setbacks in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. Since most Southern states are voting earlier than in past nominating cycles, these states are even more crucial than usual for a presidential nominee to target and secure. 

A recent poll from ABC News-Washington Post, suggests Clinton may still have steep hill to climb, as 53 percent of Americans rate her unfavorably, with her decrease in popularity noted as a result of her email controversy while serving as Secretary of State. However, the poll also states that Clinton is “particularly strong in her party, seen favorably by 80 percent of Democrats.”

3 years ago

September named ‘Voter Registration Month’ in Alabama

Voting Booths

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill joined members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) in declaring September 2015 “National Voter Registration Month” in a press release Tuesday, reminding citizens of the importance of exercising the right to vote.

NASS members explained that they established September as National Voter Registration Month as a “non-partisan means of encouraging voter participation and increasing awareness about state requirements and deadlines for voting.”

“The need for public information and education regarding voter registration and related deadlines is extremely critical as Alabama voters prepare to take part in the 2015 statewide election and the 2016 presidential election cycle,” said Secretary Merrill.

“Registering to vote empowers eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote on Election Day. I am thankful to all the Secretaries of State who are highlighting the importance of National Voter Registration Month and Day.”

NASS has also declared September 22, 2015, as National Voter Registration Day.

To “celebrate” National Voter Registration Month, Merrill implores Alabamians to register to vote, ensure their voter registration is up to date, and sign up for election reminders and updates.

“Our goal is to encourage involvement within the electoral process,” Merrill concluded. “We want every person who is eligible to vote, as a citizen of Alabama, to have the privilege to do so.”

Another recent effort to encourage voter registration in Alabama includes Merrill recruiting head football coaches of Alabama and Auburn to star in informational videos. These videos will appear on jumbotrons in Bryant-Denny and Jordan-Hare Stadiums during games this season in hopes of spreading the word and importance of voter registration.

Since June 3, 2014, to participate in an election, Alabamians must be registered to vote and present a valid form of photo ID at their polling place.

The relatively new law was rooted in a Republican campaign promise in 2010, the year that the party took control of the State House for the first time Reconstruction. It passed in 2011 and first went into use during 2014’s primary season.

According to the law, any of the following documents qualify as a valid voter ID:

• Driver’s license
• Alabama photo voter ID card
• State issued ID (any state)
• Federal issued ID or US passport
• Employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County, Municipality, Board, or other entity of this state
• Student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools)
• Military ID
• Tribal ID

To receive a free photo I.D. from the state applicants must show they are a registered voter and bring one either a birth certificate, marriage record, Social Security Administration document, hospital or nursing home record, Medicare or Medicaid document, or an official school record or transcript.

To register to vote or find your polling place in Alabama, please visit:

4 years ago

Study reveals how much weight your vote carries in Alabama

Voting Booths

Congratulations everyone, you did it. It probably didn’t seem possible, but you survived another election cycle. Enjoy the lack of political ads while you can–2016 will be here before you know it.

With the midterm elections in the rear view mirror and 2016 slowly appearing on the horizon, WalletHub, a finance social network, crunched the numbers to determine which states have the most and least powerful voters. In an ideal world, every vote would carry the same weight, but that’s not always the case.

“Although the U.S. is a democratic nation, ballots carry different weights based on the state in which one lives,” writes Richie Bernardo. “Take California, for instance. Its estimated population is nearly 66 times greater than Wyoming’s, yet each state has two seats in the Senate. In this case, less is more: California’s votes are weakened exponentially because each of its senators must represent tens of millions more residents.”

To determine which state has the most and least influential voters, WalletHub calculated the number of elected officials in the federal government per adult population in each state, says Bernardo. Each state was ranked in three categories: Senate elections, Presidential elections and House elections.

So how did Alabama fare?





The most powerful voters in the nation reside in Wyoming, Vermont, Alaska, North Dakota and Rhode Island. WalletHub notes that with an average rank of 22.25, red states have more powerful votes than blue states, where the average rank is 28.50.

4 years ago

Ala. House Speaker hammers VP Biden for photo voter ID comments

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn

At a reception in honor of Black History Month on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden said he hopes Congress will “modernize” the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to counter the “hatred” behind voter ID laws in Alabama, North Carolina and Texas.

“These guys never go away,” Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”

Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard responded to Biden’s comments today, suggesting the vice president and the rest of the Obama Administration concentrate on fixing the ObamaCare “disaster” and leave Alabama’s elections to the state. Hubbard also made it clear that “hatred” had nothing to do with the passage of Alabama’s photo voter ID law.

“The only things we hate in Alabama are voter fraud and liberal politicians in Washington, D.C. trying to tell us how to run our state,” Hubbard told Yellowhammer. “There is nothing more sacred than the right to vote and we’re doing everything we can to protect that right for citizens of all colors. Seems to me like Joe Biden and the rest of the Obama Administration need to be focused on fixing the disaster that is ObamaCare and reining in Washington’s out-of-control spending. If Obama and Biden can’t even get a website to work, why would we take advice from them on how to run our elections?”

Alabama’s photo voter ID law kicks in this year, but voters without photo identification have two options to get a free ID to meet the requirement. They can either go to the Dept. of Public Safety office in their county and acquire a free non-drivers ID card or go to their local Board of Registrars office to get a free photo ID there.

The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

6 years ago

Voter Fraud Appears Rampant in Perry County

Suspicious voting patterns in a local Alabama election serve as a clear reminder of the need to fight potential voter fraud and protect the sanctity of elections.

According to a report Thursday in the Tuscaloosa News, 125 percent of the voting age population cast ballots in a Perry County municipal election held Tuesday in Uniontown. This includes an unusually high 45% of the total votes cast being absentee ballots, compared to a 3-5% statewide average, according to the report. 130% of the town’s population was registered to vote in the election.

“I seriously doubt that this is an isolated mistake, but rather serves as a glowing example to any naysayers that voter fraud is real,” Alabama Senate Majority Leader Jabo Waggoner said. “We have an obligation to protect the democratic process we hold so dear and will continue working to identify ways to fight against abuse,” added Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh.

Under current Alabama law, citizens may present one of 19 acceptable forms of identification in order to vote, but many of them, including utility bills, bank statements and pay stubs, do not contain photos and are easily stolen, borrowed or replicated.

The Legislature last year approved a new, stricter standard requiring voters to present a photo ID in order to cast a non-challenged ballot. The law, which is slated to go into effect during the 2014 primary elections, provides free photo ID cards to citizens who do not already possess or cannot afford to purchase one.

“The Obama Justice Department has already blocked photo voter ID requirements in states like Texas and South Carolina, and it is likely it will continue its hostile actions towards Alabama, as well,” Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said. “By working diligently against this needed and valuable honest elections tool, Obama’s liberal cronies and extremist groups like the ACLU are turning a blind eye to ballot box stuffing and making the case that the only way their side can win is through cheating.”

The Uniontown election provides clear evidence that Alabama’s recently passed photo Voter ID requirement should be approved by the U.S. Justice Department and put in practice for the 2014 statewide campaign cycle.

UPDATE: Thanks to a commenter I remembered a video from earlier this year of Alabama State Representative Jay Love sparring with Al Sharpton over this exact issue…

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