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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Trump case expected to head to the jury today; IN food banks concerned about draft Farm Bill; NH parents, educators urge veto of anti-LGBTQ+ bills; Study shows a precipitous drop in migratory fish populations, in US and worldwide.

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Actor Robert DeNiro joins Capitol Police officers to protest against Donald Trump at his New York hush money trial as both sides make closing arguments. And the Democratic Party moves to make sure President Biden will be on the ballot in Ohio.

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Alabama advocacy groups sue to block restrictive new voting law

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Monday, April 8, 2024   

Alabama's front line advocates focused on disability, voting and civil rights are taking legal action against what they see as voter suppression.

Organizations including the ACLU, the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program, and Greater Birmingham Ministries have filed a lawsuit to block Senate Bill 1, which has just become state law. It restricts community groups, churches and even neighbors from helping people with absentee ballot applications.

Backers of the bill claim it will minimize "undue pressure" on voters and so-called "ballot harvesting."

Alison Mollman, legal director for the ACLU of Alabama, said it directly affects the state's most vulnerable communities.

"Given how ambiguous the law is written, given how it directly targets those that are not providing assistance with absentee ballots, but specifically with absentee ballot applications, this is about voter suppression," Mollman contended. "It's not about anything else."

Mollman argued the bill contains vague language about payments. For instance, it is now illegal for anyone to pay or be paid for ballot application assistance. However, the law does not specify what counts as compensation. She argued it puts people at risk of violating the law, even through offering something as small as an "I Voted" sticker.

Mollman also raised concerns over the bill's penalties, equating them to those for serious crimes like manslaughter, statutory rape or first-degree property theft.

"What we know from how this bill is written is that it is going to put people in harm's way of being incarcerated for decades, if they're just doing basic work and trying to make sure that people can exercise their right to vote," Mollman contended.

The lawsuit names Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, the 42 District Attorneys in the state, and Secretary of State Wes Allen. According to Mollman, the legal action claims the bill is unconstitutional on multiple grounds.

"We're very concerned that SB1 violates the Voting Rights Act. We're concerned that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the ADA, and that it's limiting access to the ballot in a way that directly contradicts federal law," Mollman outlined. "There's several counts that we've raised in our lawsuit."

The lawsuit also challenges the bill for violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.


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