State continues to push back against federal judge’s order in voter lawsuit

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – With just days left until the July 14 runoff election, the State of Alabama continues to resist court orders to accommodate voters during the pandemic.

The State of Alabama has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to block a June 15th ruling by a federal judge that said Secretary of State John Merrill cannot stop counties from offering curbside voting during the upcoming runoff election.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represents the plaintiffs in a voter lawsuit against the state People First of Alabama, filed its response Thursday.

The Supreme Court is not scheduled to convene until the Fall, leaving some wondering if there’s potential for a ruling ahead of the runoff.

The plaintiffs argue that counties should be able to offer curbside voting for voters who are concerned about COVID-19 exposure.

On the other hand, the state says changing state laws within two weeks of an election could be problematic. The state’s Supreme Court appeal argues changes to the law could create more logistical and safety problems than it would fix and is likely unlawful.

But the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund argues a stay would cause even more confusion, in the event there are counties that have already started restructuring polling sites for curbside service ahead of the July 14 runoff.

The federal judge’s previous ruling also said election officials in Jefferson, Mobile and Lee counties could not enforce photo ID and witness requirements on absentee voters who risk illness from COVID-19.

The attorney general’s office argues those exceptions create a quote “Mishmash of law that cannot be uniformly administered.”

Due to the pandemic, Merrill says anyone can apply for an absentee ballot who would prefer not to go to the polls. Absentee voting in alabama is already in progress.

The deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is July 9. The ballots most be postmarked by July 13.

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