Amendment on November ballot could impact election laws

Published: Oct. 17, 2022 at 3:26 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Election day is less than a month away and this year there will be more than just candidates on the ballot. There are 10 constitutional amendments that voters can choose to pass.

Amendment four is an election law that was passed by lawmakers in 2021. The text on the ballot will read:

“Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended; to provide that the implementation date for any bill enacted by the Legislature in a calendar year in which a general election is to be held and relating to the conduct of the general election shall be at least six months before the general election.”

If passed, any bill passed by the state legislature during an election year that affects how a general election is held must take effect at least six months before the general election.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says this is important for Alabamians when laws are passed.

“If it involves a change in the election process, people need to have time to process that and know what changes are occurring and why they’re important and significant,” said Merrill.

When the original legislation was in the statehouse it passed along party lines. Rep. Juandalynn Givan (D-Jefferson County) calls the amendment unwarranted.

“All of these election laws basically came about as a result of the big steal, as they call it, the 2020 election,” she said. “For which there was no fraud in Alabama.”

Opponents, such as the League of Women Voters of Alabama, or LWVAL, argue that important changes wouldn’t be able to be made and

“If you look at what happened in Florida, recently with the hurricane, Gov. DeSantis slipped the voter registration deadlines, because of the fact that a lot of people were not able to go register while they’re in the middle of dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane,” said Kathy Jones, president of LWVAL.

Jones believes if this amendment passes to prevent election law changes, then it would be illegal to do changes like that. However, Merrill disputes this belief.

“There’s already laws in place that enable us to take full advantage of any accommodation that needs to be provided when an emergency situation arises, whether it’s a health care concern like we saw with the COVID or other things,” said Merrill.

Merrill said the most important thing is to protect Alabamians and their opportunity to vote.

“If they’re able to understand that it won’t impact that particular election, it makes it easier for them to know that nobody is trying to push anything under the rug to them, or set them up in a particular way that would not be beneficial for all the people in the state,” said Merrill.

You can read the entire amendment and others on the Alabama Secretary of State’s website courtesy of the Fair Ballot Commission.

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