Since the Supreme Court struck down a crucial provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Alabama has routinely made voting more difficult throughout the state. Alabama has used several tactics to suppress the vote, including: enforcing extreme voter ID laws; closing drivers’ license offices in predominantly black neighborhoods; pushing for a proof-of-citizenship requirement to register to vote; closing polling places; restricting the abilities of get-out-the-vote organizations; purged voter rolls; and refusing to inform the public about the re-enfranchisement of individuals with felony records.

During this legislative session, the GOP-led state legislature stonewalled legislation that would address barriers to voting. Democratic legislators introduced bills to establish same-day voter registrationestablish automatic voter registrationestablish early votingestablish no-excuse absentee votingexpand access to voting to persons who are incarceratedremove restrictions on re-enfranchising individuals who lost their right to vote based on a criminal conviction, and allow individuals convicted of certain crimes of moral turpitude to vote. None of these pro-democracy bills were given a floor vote. A modest bill that expands absentee voting and a bill allowing permanently disabled voters to automatically receive absentee ballots before elections were passed this term.

However, the Republican controlled House passed legislation to “maintain voter registration database.” That might sound harmless, but there are concerns that the bill may ultimately lead to voting roll purges. Every Democrat present voted against the bill.

Alabama GOP legislators have also pushed forward a bill to clarify that only U.S. citizens have the right to vote in Alabama to try and intimidate minorities into staying away from the ballot box. The Alabama Constitution currently states “Every citizen of the United States” meeting certain requirements shall be able to vote.” The proposed amendment would change the constitution to read, “Only a citizen of the United States…” Democratic state Rep. Kirk Hatcher noted that the bill is unnecessary because the constitution already restricts voting to US citizens. However, the bill advocates argue that the amendment is needed because some cities around the country have allowed non-citizens to vote in local elections. It appears that Alabama Republican legislators — with the help of secret Republican donors — are using bogeymen, non-citizen voters to strike fear in Alabama voters. Alabama voters will decide on the issue in the 2020 election.

Finally, Republican Senator Jim McClendon proposed an amendment to the Alabama Constitution that would exempt redistricting bills from being read in full prior to passage. Any guesses why a GOP legislator is attempting to make the redistricting process less transparent?

But not all of the voting news coming out of Alabama is bleak. In May the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that they were launching a legal team specifically dedicated to protecting voting rights. The SPLC Voting Rights Team will challenge laws and practices that suppress the votes of minorities, young voters, and voters with disabilities, or dilute their political power through gerrymandering.