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Legislation introduced in Alabama's 2023 session creates new rules for absentee voting, voters with disabilities

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At least two bills up for debate in the 2023 legislative session deal with voting in the state of Alabama. Specific House bills have gained support from the ACLU of Alabama. Here's a look at the legislation.

First up: House Bill 95
This legislation seeks to authorize registered voters to apply for and vote using absentee ballots without an excuse. Under existing law, a registered voter in Alabama may only vote by absentee ballot if they meet one of the criteria prescribed by law for voting absentee.

Currently under Alabama law, voters must declare that they will be out of town, incapacitated or otherwise unable to get to the polls in order to cast an absentee ballot. HB 95 would do away with the requirement to fit any of those criteria and allow any registered voter to vote by absentee ballot without an excuse.

More on Alabama's current absentee voting eligibility rules can be found here on the Alabama Secretary of State's website.

The ACLU of Alabama is in favor of the no-excuse absentee voting legislation. A statement on the organization's website reads, "We support HB 95. By eliminating the requirement for an excuse to apply for an absentee ballot, more voters can participate in the process."

The ACLU of Alabama goes on to say, "Access to absentee ballots has proven important in increasing access to the voting process for Alabamians, especially during the pandemic. We support increasing access to the ballot and using the absentee voting process to provide more opportunities for voters to participate in the process."

Republican lawmakers in Alabama have opposed changing state law to allow absentee voting without an excuse.

Second up: House Bill 100
This legislation would allow disabled voters to designate an individual to deliver their application for an absentee ballot and absentee ballot to the election manager. Under existing law in Alabama, an applicant must deliver their own ballot to the election manager for it to be considered.

The ACLU of Alabama's position: "We support HB 95. This legislation addresses an important concern of access to the voting process," the organization says in a statement on its website.

"Under existing legislations, a barrier exists for those with disabilities to access the absentee voting process," the advocacy group goes on to say. "By providing an option for those that may have trouble delivering their ballot to an election manager, this legislation eliminates a barrier. With a commitment to improving access to voting, the ACLU supports this bill."

Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
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