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Biden’s Meddling DOJ Targets Alabama’s Ban On Ballot Trafficking

Man delivers a ballot from his car into a container in California.
Image CreditKCRA 3 /Youtube 

The government has weighed in with its position (or outright threat) in a so-called statement of interest.


President Joe Biden’s weaponized Department of Justice has entered the fray in a leftist lawfare case looking to shut down one of the nation’s most thorough election integrity laws. 

Weighing in to express the government’s position (or outright threat), the DOJ has filed a so-called statement of interest in a lawsuit against Alabama’s law banning ballot harvesting. 

‘No Funny Business’

The law, signed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey in March, prohibits anyone but the voter to request his absentee ballot, with some exceptions, and makes compensating individuals for “collecting, prefilling, completing, obtaining, or delivering” ballots a Class B felony — punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $30,000 in fines. Individuals who receive payments or gifts for ballot harvesting face a Class C felony, which includes a maximum 10-year sentence and fines. 

Senate Bill 1 (SB1) also requires that ballot applicants declare that they are not a felon disqualified to vote, among other key voter-integrity provisions. 

“Here in Alabama, we are committed to ensuring our elections are free and fair,” Ivey said in signing SB1. “Under my watch, there will be no funny business in Alabama elections.” 

Leftwing activist groups quickly sued a long list of defendants, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, Secretary of State Wes Allen, and district attorneys around the Yellowhammer State. 

‘Will Take Action’

Filed by many of the usual lawfare suspects — including the ACLU of Alabama, Campaign Legal Center, Legal Defense Fund, and Southern Poverty Law Center — the federal complaint insists SB1 is a “vague and sweeping statute that turns civic and neighborly voter engagement into a serious crime.” The plaintiffs — the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, Greater Birmingham Ministries, League of Women Voters of Alabama, and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program — allege that criminally penalizing compensated ballot harvesters “directly and severely burdens” their freedom of speech “by restricting core political speech and expressive activities designed to encourage absentee voting.” The law, according to the complaint, also limits their “associational rights” to engage in get-out-the-vote efforts, some of which are at the heart of the election-integrity concerns that necessitated the statute.

But it’s the claim that the law “disenfranchises disabled voters, senior citizen voters, voters of color, eligible incarcerated voters, and many other Alabamians who depend on assistance to vote,” that got Biden’s Justice Department’s hackles up. 

In its statement of interest, the DOJ claims to “promote the correct and uniform interpretation of voting laws guarding the rights of voters with disabilities.” The agency also intervened in a lawsuit attempting to restrain an Ohio law that allows only a postal worker or a close relative to handle someone’s absentee ballot in their place. In both cases, federal officials allege the voter-integrity laws run counter to Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act, which, according to the DOJ, allows disabled voters to receive assistance “from any person they choose, so long as that person is not an agent of the voter’s employer or union.”

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke suggests the laws deny disabled voters access to ballots. 

“The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, and the Justice Department will take action to safeguard that right for all eligible voters, including those with disabilities who need assistance casting absentee ballots,” Clarke, a former NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney who serves now in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, threatened in the press release. She is the same assistant AG who recently admitted that she falsely testified to the Senate that she had not been arrested on violence charges. As the New York Post reported, during her 2021 confirmation hearing, Clarke responded “no” when asked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., whether she’d “ever been arrested for or accused of committing a violent crime against any person.”

‘Multiple Convictions’

The DOJ’s blustering appears misdirected. Alabama’s ballot-harvesting prohibition law makes clear that disabled, blind, or illiterate residents eligible to vote “may be given assistance by an individual of the voter’s choice.” The exception, of course, is an agent of the voter’s employer or a representative of the voter’s union, as laid out in the Voting Rights Act. 

“Ballot harvesting should not be a job description,” Secretary of State Wes Allen said in an editorial written before the SB1 ultimately became law.  

“Over the last decade, there have been multiple convictions for absentee ballot fraud across the state of Alabama,” he said. 

Liberal activists insist that such fraud is not a problem, certainly not worth creating a law putting an end to ballot harvesting. But the Heritage Foundation’s Election Fraud database records more than a dozen cases of fraudulent use of absentee ballots in Alabama, including a case in which a judge overturned the preliminary election results in a Wetumpka City Council race. 

“On election night, it appeared that Washington’s opponent, Percy Gill, who was the incumbent, had won by three votes,” Heritage notes. “Washington challenged the result, and following a trial in which live witnesses and forensics experts testified, the judge threw out eight absentee ballots that had been cast for Gill either because the signatures had been forged or they had not been notarized or signed in front of the requisite number of witnesses, and declared Washington to be the winner.”

Democrats like to say voter fraud isn’t widespread, but as the Alabama case illustrates, a few fraudulent votes can turn an election. And each fraudulent vote is an attack on free and fair elections. 

“They’ve used ‘widespread’ for years as a way of downplaying any concern about it,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission and Senior Legal Fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. “We don’t have ‘widespread’ bank robberies but we have enough of them that we take very detailed security precautions to prevent them. Election fraud is exactly the same.”

‘Alabama Votes Are Not for Sale’

Earlier this year, Allen told the Alabama Political Reporter that the previous absentee ballot law did not have comprehensive provisions to penalize accused ballot traffickers.

“[T]here was nobody being prosecute[d] because the law that we amended, the penalty provisioning was very vague,” the secretary of state told the publication. 

Alabama is the only state that “specifies that only the voter may return their mail ballot,” according to Ballotpedia. Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia allow “someone chosen by the voter to return mail ballots on their behalf in most cases,” while 13 states spell out who is allowed to do so. Another dozen states have no laws on the books about returning ballots on behalf of voters, Ballotpedia reports.  

Allen’s office said he can’t comment on the substance of the lawsuit and directed questions to the attorney general’s office. But the secretary of state “stands by his previous statements” supporting Alabama’s ballot-harvesting ban. 

“SB1 provides Alabama voters with strong protection against activists who profit from the absentee elections process. I stand firm in my support of SB1 because now, under Alabama law, Alabama votes are not for sale,” Allen said. 

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