Looming ‘Merrill v. Milligan’ Supreme Court decision could affect future election procedures

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WSFA App Tile(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Midterm elections are days away but when it comes to future elections a looming Supreme Court decision could have some effect on them. Merrill v. Milligan would be the second Alabama case decision impacting voting procedures, the first being Shelby v. Holder, in 2013.

The Shelby v. Holder decision allows certain states to change their voting laws based on their history of discrimination without consent. Previously these states were required to get federal permission before making any changes.

Merrill v. Milligan is based on Alabama’s Congressional district maps that had been ruled unconstitutional because of gerrymandering. JaTaune Gilchrist with the Alabama ACLU says Alabamians should be invested in the result of that case because it could have a negative impact on the country.

“We saw an onslaught of voter suppression tactics,” she described. “That includes voter ID laws that were implemented. The closing down of polling places, voter purging, the closing of DMVs in areas in the black belts that would allow people to actually get a voter ID to vote.”

April Fortune, an active voter in Madison County, says she was redirected from her usual polling place for an election, forcing her to commute further to cast her ballot.

“When I got there, there were like seven other cars in the parking lot,” Fortune said. “And people were standing around like, baffled. And I’m like, ‘What’s going on? they said, the building is closed, they were not voting here.’”

Fortune said she reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office about the changes.

“They said that they had re-did the boundaries and redistricting areas and ours was one of those areas,” Fortune said. “When I asked well, how come we were not notified? They said they’re not required to notify us.”

In response to that Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger says there was no foul play involved. He says the election she participated in was a municipal election, not a county election. Those elections can take place in alternative polling locations.

Judge Barger says municipal elections must take place within city limits and if a precinct is not within those limits, the voter must move to another polling place.

He also says this situation is not uncommon and happens in every county. He made it clear Fortune’s polling place was never closed and she can cast her ballot in her usual poll location on Tuesday.