Federal judge allows curbside voting, loosens absentee requirements for general election
Birmingham, Ala. - A ruling issued by District Judge Abdul Kallon Sept. 30 prohibits Alabama from blocking curbside voting and loosens requirements for absentee voters due to COVID-19. The ruling only applies to the Nov. 3 general election. State leaders have vowed to appeal.
Curbside voting allows voters who are unable to go inside a polling place due to a medical condition or disability to have a ballot brought to their vehicle by a poll worker. Alabama counties now have the option to offer the service, but it is not required. Officials in at least one county, Madison County, have said they will not offer the service.
Kallon also ruled that the the voter ID requirement for absentee voters was unconstitutional. Medically vulnerable voters must still provide proof of identity, such as the last four digits of their social security number or driver's license.
The judge's order also allows voters ages 65 years of age and voters with an underlying condition to obtain an absentee ballot without a witness or notary. They can now provide a written statement.
The ACLU of Alabama issued a statement hailing the decision saying that “state and local election officials have a reasonability to ensure that voting is easy and accessible for everyone in the pandemic” and that it provides “crucial relief in Alabama’s absentee voting process.”
The ruling will likely head back to higher courts to review the decision. Secretary of State John Merrill called Judge Kallon an “activist judge” via his Twitter account and said
the “chain of custody in the ballot process” is lost when curbside voting is allowed.
Attorney General Steve Marshall confirmed the State will appeal the decision in a statement saying that “we will ask the Eleventh US Circuit Court of Appeals, and if necessary, the Supreme Court” to block the decision.
Merrill and Marshall appealed a similar order over the summer that applied to the July 14 runoff. By a 5-4 vote along ideological lines, the US Supreme Court overturned the decision that allowed curbside voting for the summer runoff election and loosened the same requirements in absentee voting.
Citizens are still able to request an absentee ballot requests as well as cast their ballot at their local courthouse. More information is located on the Secretary of State's website. The deadline to register to vote in Alabama is October 19.