137K at risk of being taken off Alabama voter roll

Alabama is preparing for Election Day.
Alabama is preparing for Election Day.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jan. 6, 2021 at 12:03 PM EST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - About 137,000 names are at risk of being taken off Alabama’s voter roll if they don’t update their voter registration information by Wednesday, according to the Alabama secretary of state’s office.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires states update their voter registration list to make sure eligible voters are on it. State law requires Alabama maintain its voter list every four years.

“Because those people have moved away, maybe they passed away, maybe they have committed a crime that’s caused them to forfeit their right to vote at that point,” Merrill explained. “Those individuals should not be on the voter rolls.”

Here is what puts someone at risk of being taken off the voter list:

  • If someone has not voted in the last two federal elections.
  • If they did not respond to the 2017 mailer sent by the secretary of state and update their voter information.

“And then in February, people’s names will start being removed from the voter rolls, because they did not adhere to the compliance standards that are established in state and federal law related to their voter information being correct, up-to-date and complete,” Merrill said.

By law, the names of those at risk of being removed are also required to be published in newspapers.

Southern Poverty Law Center Senior Staff Attorney Caren Short believes Alabama’s system is outdated.

“That isn’t going to reach everybody. I don’t read the physical newspaper,” she said. “I’m not sure how many people still do that. There needs to be new ways to reach everyone.”

Short said the current process is prone to mistakes.

“We use a process that relies on the mail,” she said. “And there are some more reliable sources out there that we can use to determine who needs to be taken off the rolls, because they no longer live in their current address.”

Merrill said he is urging Alabama lawmakers to pass a bill that would help contact voters through the mail in a more “efficient and effective manner.”

“If they don’t like the way that we’re currently doing it, then they need to get with their member of Congress or their legislator and ask them to change the law,” Merrill said.

In January of 2017, about 71,000 people were removed from Alabama’s voter roll.

In January of 2021, a non-forwardable postcard was mailed to every registered voter in the state. If this postcard is returned undeliverable, the voter is sent a second mailing that is forwardable.

In the second mailing, the voter is requested to update his or her address, since the first postcard was undeliverable.

If someone is taken off the voter roll, they can go to the secretary of state’s website to updated it. Another option is to visit the county board of registrars to be put back on the list.

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