Civic Groups Unite to Fight Against Voter Suppression Tactics in the South
Thursday, May 25, 2023
Civic groups are taking action against what they call voter suppression tactics in the South.
This week Alabama Values, Southern Leadership for Voter Engagement (SOLVE), and Groundwork Project joined forces with other organizations to discuss recent legislation such as Alabama House Bill 209.
The bill's provisions would forbid individuals from aiding in the distribution, ordering, requesting, collecting, obtaining, or delivering of an absentee ballot application or absentee ballot on behalf of someone else.
During the briefing, Dillion Nettles - policy and advocacy director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama - said the bill also criminalizes civic organizations and individuals wanting to assist others in exercising their right to vote by limiting who can help get the ballots or applications.
"But that is a very narrow group of individuals," said Nettles. "You essentially have to be someone who works as an election official or works in the absentee election managers office, you have to be a next of kin of that individual, or someone who lives with them. "
If it passes, HB 209 would establish felony charges for people who break the law.
According to Kiana Jackson - research and coalition organizing manager at New Disabled South - this bill not only hinders organizations that facilitate voting accessibility, but also creates greater hurdles for older adults and individuals with disabilities.
"We know that about 7.5% of disabled people are not able to have a voter ID, compared to able bodied people at 4%," said Jackson. "So there are huge gaps in even how we vote but then particularly when we talk about accessibility and you're putting more and more barriers in place."
HB 209 is through the House and awaits action by the State Governmental Affairs Committee.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
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