Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey Signs Law Banning Curbside Voting

May 27, 2021 Updated: May 27, 2021

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed two laws on Wednesday for a “free, fair, and highly ethical” election process; one for revising the process of updating voter addresses and another to ban curbside voting.

“Our freedom of speech is rooted in our ability to vote, and a strong election process is what sets our democracy apart from every other country in the world,” Ivey said in a statement. “I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Rep. Allen and Rep. Scott to ensure Alabama’s election process remains free, fair, and highly ethical.”

Both laws take effect immediately.

Democratic State Representative Roderick Scott introduced House Bill 314 (pdf), which revises the process of updating voter address changes in a bid to improve the maintenance of voter roll integrity.

Republican Representative Wes Allen introduced House Bill 285 (pdf), which bans drive-through or curbside voting.

Proponents of curbside voting claim that the method expands voter access, especially for the elderly or disabled. Opponents argue that it opens doors to voter fraud.

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A poll worker talks to people during curbside voting in Sun Prarie, Wis., on April 7, 2020. (Andy Manis/Getty Images)

The bill requires that voting machines must be installed and operated “within the interior of an enclosed building designated as a voting place.” It further requires that election officers or poll workers not take ballots into or out of voting places, except when performing authorized duties “that include only the pre-election and post-election transporting of ballots to and from voting places as part of established election procedures.”

“Since taking office, we have always prioritized securing the chain of ballot custody,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said in a statement. “By keeping the ballot in the hands of the voter, we ensure each vote is counted accurately, honestly, and independently from any poll worker or third party.”

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John Merrill, Secretary of State of Alabama, speaks to the media in the Capitol building, in Montgomery, Ala., on Dec. 12, 2017. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Merrill said that handicap-accessible voting machines would still be available at all polling places and absentee offices. Voters with qualifying disabilities may also apply for an absentee ballot.

During the general election last year, Merrill banned curbside voting because he thought it was “illegal” and led to “the chain of custody is then broken.”

Some voters and civil rights groups sued Merrill. A federal court ruled against him, and a circuit court upheld the order.

However, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Merrill on Oct. 21, 2020, permitting his ban of curbside voting and voter ID requirements.