Supreme Court Blocks Curbside Voting In Alabama

Jul 3, 2020
Originally published on July 3, 2020 7:30 pm
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Some voters in Alabama will be going to the polls on July 14 for a primary runoff elections. They were rescheduled for March due to the pandemic. But other voters there prefer playing it safe and mailing in their ballots. A federal judge had loosened some of Alabama's strict rules to make absentee voting easier, then last night, as NPR's David Welna reports, the U.S. Supreme Court's conservative majority blocked that judge's order.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: It was an emergency 5-to-4 ruling by the Supreme Court, with only the justices appointed by Republican presidents in favor. The court did not explain its reasoning, but in a similar rejection of an easing of voting rules in Wisconsin due to the pandemic, the conservative justices maintained that changing the rules there so close to an election would violate court precedent.

The high court effectively put on hold a ruling by a federal district judge in Alabama that would have made it simpler to get an absentee ballot and to hand it in. No copies of photo IDs would have been required for disabled and elderly people, and mail-in ballots would not have to be witnessed by other people. The changes would have applied to three of the state's most populous counties, which are some of the hardest hit by a recent spike in the pandemic. Curbside pickup statewide of such ballots would have also been permitted under the judge's ruling.

The voters who sued to loosen the requirements say they plan to appeal in hopes that voting in Alabama won't be quite so onerous and dangerous in November. David Welna, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.