By Erica Thomas, managing editor
MONTGOMERY — Sept. 22, 2020, is National Voter Registration Day. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is working to spread the word.
This year, on Nov. 3, the nation will take part in voting for all 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate, and for the President of the United States. Alabama voters will vote on several Statewide Constitutional Amendments.
Merrill said it is important for every Alabamian to be registered to vote.
“For the last five years, eight months and 3 days that I’ve been the Secretary, we have made a concerted effort to ensure that each and every eligible U.S. citizen that is a resident of Alabama has been given the opportunity to become a registered voter and to obtain a photo I.D.,” said Merrill.
Since coming into office, Merrill said his office has registered 1,647,294 new voters.
“We now have a state record of 3,655,528 registered voters,” Merrill added. “So, 96% of all eligible African Americans are registered to vote, 91 of all eligible whites are registered to vote and 94% of all eligible Alabamians are registered to vote.
Merrill said he pushes for people to register to vote, but after they register, it is up to them to participate.
“We make sure that people know there is an election and if people choose to participate, then we certainly want to encourage them to do so,” he said.
In the past six elections in the state of Alabama, the state has broken records for voter participation, according to Merrill.
There are options for those concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic. Anyone wishing to cast an absentee ballot in order to avoid possible exposure to coronavirus at the polls may do so. Merrill reminds voters that applications for an absentee ballot must be received int he officer of the Absentee Election Manager for your county no later than the 5th calendar day prior to the election. Furthermore, absentee ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than the day prior to the election and received by the Absentee Election Manager no later than noon on election day. Hand-delivered absentee ballots must be received by the close of business on the day before the election.
Other than the general election, municipal runoff elections will be held in various cities and towns on Oct. 6.
Below is a list of amendments that will be voted on in Alabama on Nov. 3.
– Amendment 1, if approved, would grant the right to vote to “only” those U.S. citizens who meet the requirements as opposed to “every” U.S. citizen who meets the requirements.
- Amendment 2, if approved, would provide that county district courts no longer have to hold city court in cities with a population of less than 1,000. It would also allow the AL Supreme Court, rather than the Chief Justice, to appoint the Administrative Director of Courts. Amendment 2 would increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) from 9 to 11 and determine who appoints each member. Amendment 2 would allow the Governor, rather than the Lieutenant Governor, to appoint a member of the Court of the Judiciary (COJ). Amendment 2 would prevent a judge from being automatically disqualified from holding office because a complaint was filed with the JIC and would provide that only the COJ could remove a judge from office.
– Amendment 3, if approved, would increase from one year to two years the minimum term of office for a person appointed to fill a judicial vacancy.
– Amendment 4, if approved, would allow the Legislature to draft a rearranged version of the state constitution in ‘22. This draft could ONLY: remove racist, repeated or no longer applicable language & combine language related to economic development & language related to same county.
–Amendment 4 would require the rearranged version of the state constitution to be approved by a majority of voters before becoming law.
- Amendment 5, if approved, would allow a person to legally use physical force against another person under certain conditions ONLY in churches in Franklin County. This amendment would create a special “Stand Young Ground” law applicable to churches in Franklin County only.
- Amendment 6, if approved, would allow a person to legally use physical force against another person under certain conditions ONLY in churches in Lauderdale County. This amendment would create a special “Stand Young Ground” law applicable to churches in Lauderdale County only.
For more election information in Alabama, visit AlabamaVotes.gov.