U.S. Supreme Court blocks curbside voting in Alabama

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against curbside voting in the State of Alabama.

Posted: Oct 21, 2020 8:44 PM
Updated: Oct 21, 2020 9:12 PM

The Supreme Court of the United States on Wednesday ruled against curbside voting in Alabama.

The court’s 5-3 ruling blocked a lower court’s order allowing the practice of curbside voting in the Nov. 3 general election.

This comes after Attorney General Steve Marshall announced last week that the State of Alabama was appealing the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding a lower court order that would allow curbside voting.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill issued the following statement on Wednesday regarding the Supreme Court’s ruling:

“I am proud to report the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked a lower court’s order allowing the fraudulent practice of curbside voting in the State of Alabama.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods - including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.

“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters.

“Tonight’s ruling in favor of election integrity and security is once again a win for the people of Alabama.”

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall issued the following statement: 

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that the U.S. Supreme Court granted the State of Alabama’s emergency request for a stay of a federal district court’s order that had purported to create curbside voting in Alabama. 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,” said Attorney General 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. Even so, in June, the district court entered a preliminary injunction that prohibited the Secretary of State from halting curbside voting that otherwise complied with state law. The State asked the Supreme Court to stay the injunction so state law could again take effect, and on July 2, the Supreme Court granted that relief. Then, following a trial this September, the district court again entered a nearly identical injunction. Thus, on October 15, the State again sought relief from the Supreme Court, and earlier tonight, the Supreme Court again granted it.

“As we argued in our stay request to the Supreme Court, Alabama has taken extraordinary measures to ensure that all voters can vote safely, while also ensuring that this election is conducted fairly, efficiently, and free from fraud. But Alabama law does not and has never provided for curbside voting. The district court’s decision to create it for the State was contrary to state and federal law.

“Just as important, when States decide to authorize curbside voting, they typically do so through legislation and with months or years of careful planning. They don’t throw it together in a matter of weeks in the middle of a pandemic. That is a recipe for chaos that could end up making it harder, not easier, for people to vote. In addition to the specter of voters’ cars backed up further than a Chick-fil-A drive-thru, there was the risk that would come from voters handing over open ballots to poll workers without being able to see whether a poll worker would actually deposit the ballot after taking it inside the polling place. Fortunately, with the Supreme Court’s action tonight, those risks have been averted.”

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