In a recent ruling, the highest court supported Alabama’s Secretary of State, John Merrill, in banning accommodated voting options.
The ban was challenged by voters most affected by the decision at the beginning of May. Following the challenge and a three-day trial, a federal district court ruled that the ban was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The court found that curbside voting was considered a reasonable accommodation since counties were allowed but not required to provide it.
After a federal appeals court sustained the ruling in favor of allowing curbside voting, the state appealed to the Supreme Court to block the accommodation from going into effect. The high court’s decision to side with the state granted a postponement of the lower court orders.
Several counties in the state, including Montgomery, wanted to provide the curbside voting to protect vulnerable populations during the pandemic. Voting curbside would allow people with disabilities and those in high-risk populations to vote from inside their cars before handing their ballot to a poll worker to be counted.
The Supreme Court’s decision was made by the court’s conservative majority, with three justices dissenting the action. Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned a statement on behalf of the dissenting justices highlighting the difficulties of mail-in voting in the state while underscoring the risk factor involved with traditional in-person voting for vulnerable populations.
Justice Sotomayor used the words of one of the voters who initially challenged the ban, 70-year-old Howard Porter, Jr. who said, “While I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that time.”
In recent months, Alabama has seen a surge in coronavirus cases and does not currently have a mask mandate.
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