HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Members of the Alabama Voting Rights Coalition (AVRC) held a press conference Wednesday to discuss an Alabama house bill they say aims to increase voter suppression.
House Bill 209 (HB209) was first introduced in March and is sponsored by Rep. Jamie Kiel (R- Russellville). It has already passed in the Alabama House of Representatives and is set to go before a Senate committee sometime next week.
The bill would “prohibit any person from distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, completing, obtaining, or delivering an absentee ballot application or absentee ballot of another person in certain circumstances…”
It looks to prevent any person from engaging or assisting in any way with the absentee ballot application or absentee ballot of another person, with the exception of the following:
- Any family member “to the second-degree of kinship”
- Someone who has lived with the voter for at least six months
- The Alabama Secretary of State or an employee of the Alabama Secretary of State designated in writing by the Alabama Secretary of State
- The judge of probate or an employee designated in writing by the judge of probate for the county in which the voter lives
- The absentee election manager for the county in which the voter lives for statewide elections
- The absentee election manager for the municipality in which the voter votes for municipal elections
- A guardian, conservator, or other individual appointed by order of the probate court
Any violation of the bill, if passed, would result in felony charges.
The AVRC held a press conference Wednesday to talk about the impacts the passage of this bill would have on voting rights in Alabama. The coalition says HB209 will impact organizations that work to help make voting access greater and elderly and disabled voters who rely on assistance with absentee ballots.
“People who have disabilities, people who can’t see, for example, blind people, often need assistance with filling out, with getting an absentee ballot and filling it out and this bill would literally make it a felony for me to do that to help a neighbor,” voting rights specialist Dori Miles said.
Angela Curry, the Director of United Women of Color Founder/Executive, says it would deny participation to some eligible citizens.
“Let me be clear, voting is a sacred right, a cornerstone of our society, but House Bill 209 seeks to silence our voices, your voices, to strip away our power, and to deny equal representation to marginalized communities,” Curry said. “We believe that every eligible citizen has a right to vote and participate in shaping our society.”
To learn more about HB209, you can read the full piece of legislation here.
For more information about AVRC or to reach out, you can visit their Facebook page.