Today, LDF, ACLU of Alabama, Alabama Arise, Alabama Election Protection Network, Alabama Forward, Alabama Forward Action, and Lift Our Vote sent a letter urging Alabama Secretary of State John J. Merrill to address issues with county communication regarding polling place locations and to address polling place closures. The letter requests that the Secretary of State publish an accurate, uniform, and comprehensive list of polling locations statewide to mitigate voter confusion at the polls and the disenfranchisement that often follows. The groups also request Secretary Merrill to implement formal guidance to ensure polling place closures and changes do not disenfranchise voters of color, as they have to date.
Alabama law requires county election officials to notify voters of their polling locations by publishing a list of voters and their respective polling locations. However, some counties fail to publish anything online, while others publish information that is inaccurate, contradictory, and at times, so seriously lacking in relevant detail as to not meaningfully inform voters of their polling locations.
Polling place closures are disproportionately located in precincts serving Black voters. LDF calls on Secretary Merrill to publish a uniform and comprehensive polling place list to ensure compliance with federal and state law and to ensure that disparate polling place information does not continue to disenfranchise Black voters and voters of color.
The Secretary of State must issue guidance to ensure closures comply with Alabama law, the Voting Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal laws. Any guidance must reiterate and clarify existing criteria for polling places and ensure that the number of polling sites per county is maintained equitably across all of Alabama, that polling sites are not closed immediately before an election, conduct an impact assessment prior to closures, and that notices are sent promptly to voters and to the public in the event of polling place closures.
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.