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‘Alabama Votes Are Not For Sale’: Gov. Ivey Signs Law Barring Third Parties From Trafficking Ballot Applications

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Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed legislation on Wednesday to prohibit the trafficking of absentee ballot applications in Alabama elections.

“Here in Alabama, we are committed to ensuring our elections are free and fair,” Ivey said in a statement. “Under my watch, there will be no funny business in Alabama elections.”

As my colleague Brianna Lyman previously explained, “ballot harvesting” is when “a third party, such as volunteers or paid workers, go to residences, nursing homes, and other locations to pick up completed ballots and drop them off at election offices or another designated drop-off location.” The strategy is often used by left-wing organizations to accrue Democrats an advantage over Republicans ahead of Election Day.

According to Ballotpedia, Alabama is the only state in the country where existing law explicitly requires the voter and no designated representative to return his or her mail-in ballot.

SB 1 stipulates it “shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly distribute an absentee ballot application to a voter that is prefilled with the voter’s name or any other information required on the application form.” The law also specifies that absentee ballots may only be submitted by the voter in person, by U.S. mail, or via commercial carrier.

Barring a declared state of emergency, individuals would additionally be prohibited from submitting “a completed absentee ballot application to the absentee election manager other than his or her own application,” except in cases in which a voter “requires emergency treatment by a licensed physician within five days before an election.” In those instances, a person “designated by the applicant” may submit the ballot application on their behalf.

[READ: Republicans Can’t Beat Democrats’ Ballot Harvesting Game Until They Actually Start Playing It]

SB 1 furthermore makes it a Class C felony for third parties to “knowingly receive a payment or gift for distributing, ordering, requesting, collecting, completing, prefilling, obtaining, or delivering a voter’s absentee ballot application.” Individuals found guilty of paying or providing gifts to third parties to “distribute, order, request, collect, prefill, complete, obtain, or deliver a voter’s absentee ballot application” will be charged with a Class B felony.

Absentee voters who are blind, have a disability, or can’t read or write and require “assistance to vote” are permitted to receive help from an “individual of the voter’s choice.” That individual may not, however, be the “voter’s employer or agent of that employer or officer or agent of the voter’s union.”

Secretary of State Wes Allen celebrated SB 1’s enactment, noting how the bill “signals to ballot harvesters that Alabama votes are not for sale.”

“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our constitutional republic,” Allen said. “The Alabama Legislature and Governor Ivey have made it clear that Alabama voters have the right to cast their own vote without undue influence.”

SB 1 took effect immediately upon Ivey signing it into law.


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