WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Wednesday put on hold a lower court order that would have permitted curbside voting in Alabama in November.
The justices’ vote was 5-3, with the court’s three liberals dissenting. As is typical when the Supreme Court acts on an emergency basis, the justices in the majority did not explain their decision. It was not clear how many counties might have offered curbside voting, allowing people to vote from their car by handing their ballot to a poll worker.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in a dissent joined by Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Elena Kagan, described the lower court’s order allowing curbside voting in November as “modest,” and she said she would not have put it on hold.
“It does not require all counties to adopt curbside voting; it simply gives prepared counties the option to do so. This remedy respects both the right of voters with disabilities to vote safely and the State’s interest in orderly elections,” she said, noting that 28 states permit curbside voting.
Attorney General Steve Marshall said the High Court’s decision Wednesday is its second in three months to protect the security of Alabama’s elections.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court has again acted quickly to grant the State’s emergency stay request to clarify that Alabama’s laws will govern Alabama’s upcoming election,” Marshall said. “While our election laws are easily complied with, even during this pandemic, they ensure that Alabama voters can have confidence that they are voting in a fair election. The Supreme Court’s decision is a victory for Alabama’s election integrity and thus for Alabama voters.”
Alabama offers two methods of voting—in-person and absentee. And for this election, the State has made absentee voting available to all Alabama voters. But the Alabama Legislature has never authorized curbside voting. Thus, the Secretary of State has for years taken the position that such voting is unlawful.