SPLC to Secretary of State: Reinstate Inactive Voters by Next Month
The Southern Poverty Law Center on Friday asked Secretary of State John Merrill to reinstate the 340,000 Alabama voters that have been placed on inactive voter lists before the September Senate runoff. Many residents voting in Tuesday’s primary learned for the first time their status had been changed to “inactive.” Poll workers asked them to fill out verification forms in order to cast a ballot in the race for the Senate seat previously held by Jeff Sessions.
Richard Cohen, head of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said voters should not have been faced with such obstacles on an election day. He said some who might have had to rush off to work likely left their polling places on being presented with forms to fill out; some might have been intimidated. “In any event, people shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to cast a ballot in Alabama elections.”
Cohen stopped short of calling it voter suppression, but said the hassles voters faced on Tuesday had the same effect.
Merrill in a letter Friday defended Alabama’s process for updating the voter rolls. The state from January to March sent postcards to registered voters. If voters had no changes to their records, they were instructed to keep the cards but take no further action. If the postcards were mailed a second time and returned to sender, voters were placed on the inactive voter rolls.
Those who verified their information at the polls were permitted to cast provisional ballots.