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Ballot harvesting crackdown passes Alabama House

Lawmakers in Alabama have pushed a bill that would make it a crime for organizers and activists to accept payment for processing absentee ballot applications from non-family members. It would also be a crime for businesses or nonprofits to pay people to harvest ballots in Alabama.

Governor Kay Ivey expressed support for the proposal in her 2024 State of the State address. Secretary of State Wes Allen, who oversees the state's elections, promoted the effort retroactively to the 2023 legislative session.

Senate Bill 1 was reviewed, approved and prioritized by Senate leaders last month and is sponsored by state Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman). The bill was passed in the Alabama House of Representatives by Rep. Jamie Keel (R-Russellville).

“This bill would make it illegal to pay or receive payments to assist a voter in completing an application for an absentee ballot, commonly known as ballot harvesting. It will prevent people from manipulating the absentee voting process or intimidating or disrupting voters,” said Rep. Kiel.

“This bill does not change voter registration efforts in the state.”

RELATED: Alabama Senate passes bill to outlaw ballot harvesting – 'Easy to vote, hard to cheat'

Democrats strongly opposed this bill.

“We have another absentee voting bill introduced this year,” said Rep. Sellers (D-Birmingham). “I think this bill creates a problem out of thin air and then fails to address it admirably. People use their imagination when they don't have information, and especially when it comes to absentee voting, they use their imagination. It seems like putting people to work has become a nationwide thing.”

The House of Representatives adopted a replacement version of the bill prepared by the House Constitution, Elections and Elections Committee. Amendments to the bill were also adopted.

RELATED: Allen: Harvest crops, not ballots in Alabama

The bill passed the House on a 75-28 vote along party lines. The Alabama Republican Party released a statement praising the Legislature for pushing the bill.

The Alabama Republican Party wrote in a statement: “SB1 – Protecting Election Integrity: With the support of Sen. Garlan Gajjar, SB1 will reform the absentee voting process to ensure the security and integrity of every ballot, so no one’s vote is lost. Strengthen the integrity of elections by ensuring that they are stolen.”

Because of the changes made in the House, the bill now goes back to the Senate, which must consider the changes.

This week, the Alabama Legislature will go on its regular spring break and is scheduled to return on March 19th.

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