Did Alabama Just Violate Federal Voting Law?

A multitude of voters—most of them in majority-black counties—struggled to cast their ballots in the race between Roy Moore and Doug Jones. Unprepared poll workers spread misinformation. Bewildered citizens were forced to fill out confusing, redundant paperwork. Qualified voters were told they could not vote. And the state may well have run afoul of federal law.

…many voters were in fact told they were inactive even though they voted in 2016 and have lived at the same address for years. There is no legal reason why these individuals should have been considered inactive.

…These voters’ inactivity wouldn’t be a serious snag if poll workers, and the secretary of state, dealt with it correctly. …Under state law, inactive voters can become active and cast a regular ballot once they reidentify themselves, which should be as easy as presenting their photo IDs. (Alabama requires an ID to vote.) But on Tuesday, these voters were compelled to fill out a lengthy, complex form that required them to list, among other things, their county of birth.

…Poll workers [claimed to be] uncertain whether they could accept reidentification forms from inactive voters who forgot the county in which they were born. Others gave inactive voters provisional ballots even if they filled out the entire reidentification form correctly. …In Montgomery County alone …as many as 40 inactive voters who properly reidentified themselves were forced to cast provisional ballots. And at least one poll worker in Tallapoosa County reportedly informed a man in the inactive list that he could not vote at all.

…In Democratic-leaning, majority-black Jefferson County, …police were stationed outside of a polling place pulling people over for making illegal turns. Officers held at least one woman, who was on her way to vote, for nearly an hour while writing her up. [In Jefferson County] police were stationed at the polling place checking IDs for outstanding warrants, a once-common voter suppression scheme. When election monitors dropped by the precinct shortly thereafter, the police promptly left.

The United States is the only developed country in which these kinds of problems consistently plague elections.

Did Alabama Just Violate Federal Voting Law?

Short answer? Yes.


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