By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
TUSKEGEE, Ala. (AP) — Congressional candidate Mallory Hagan said Thursday that a worrisome number of Alabama voters have been removed from active voter lists, prompting her to create a committee to assist people who encounter problems before and on Election Day.
Hagan’s campaign said more than 55,000 voters in the 3rd Congressional District have been disqualified or labeled inactive since February 2017, according to numbers they obtained. Hagan did not allege any wrongdoing by the state, but said the large number is of concern and echoes questions across the country about voting access, stringent voter ID requirements and policies she said are “riddled with discrimination.”
“Across the country, voters are seeing their rights slip through their fingers,” said Hagan. “According to our most recent findings, more than one in 10 voters here in east Alabama have been removed from the active voter rolls, Hagan said, adding that those voters are either removed completely or have been marked inactive on voting rolls.
She announced the creation of a committee of lawyers who will volunteer their assistance to voters. In addition, her campaign will staff a hotline for voters to report any concerns.
People can also check their voting information at the secretary of state’s web site myinfo.alabamavotes.gov.
Hagan, a Democrat and former Miss America, is challenging Republican Rep. Mike Rogers in the Nov. 6 election.
Broadcast outlet WSFA reported that Rogers declined to comment about Hagan’s statements.
The secretary of state’s office said last year that 340,162 people statewide were put on inactive voter status during a required update of voting rolls.
Secretary of State John Merrill said inactive voters can vote on Election Day, but first must update their registration information.
“They’ve just been placed on the inactive list, which means before they can vote they have to fill out the updated form,” Merrill said.
Merrill said people were placed on inactive status after a mailed registration card was returned as undeliverable and they failed to respond to a second forwarded postcard requesting they update their address. U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks was among voters who discovered they were placed on the inactive list when he went to vote for himself in last year’s U.S. Senate primary.
Voter rights advocates have at times criticized some of the state’s practices.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sent a letter last year to Merrill ahead of the Senate race, expressing concerns that some voters might have been wrongly designated inactive.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law sent Merrill a letter in July saying the state was not giving voters required notice before removing them if an interstate database flagged them as being registered in another state.
“We are following the law,” Merrill said.