LWVAL logo Voting Access & Election Practices
A Tier II Legislative Priority for the League of Women Voters of Alabama in 2009
| Legislation to watch | About the legislation | LWVAL's position | Progress of the legislation | LWVAL action |

Legislation to watch in 2009

HB38 - Sponsored by Representative Hurst

HB55 - Sponsored by Representative England
SB99 - Sponsored by Senator Smitherman

HB72 - Sponsored by Representative Ward. Now  Substitute 107129-2.

HB73 - Sponsored by Representative Ward - Campaign Disclosure Reports - See Government Transparency & Accountability

HB140 - Sponsored by Representative Hinshaw

HB161 - Sponsored by Representatives Robinson (O) and Dunn

HB283 - Sponsored by Representatives Ball, DeMarco, Shiver, Hill, Collier, Love, Treadaway, McCutcheon, Todd, Hinshaw, Scott, Baker (A), Canfield, McCampbell, Bentley, Hubbard, Mask, Gipson, Williams, Martin, Drake, Thomas (E), Hammon, Ward, Sanderford, Oden, Faust, Barton
SB205 - Sponsored by Senator Orr

SB145 - Sponsored by Senator Mitchem

SB206 - Sponsored by Senators Orr, Erwin, and Butler

LWVAL is also monitoring SB75, HB161, HB279, HB436, HB759, & HB812. See Monitored Legislation to read about these bills that address Voting Access & Election Practices.




About the legislation

HB38 - Summary:  Under existing law, the appointing board that appoints election officials is not authorized to appoint alternates.  This bill would authorize the appointment of alternate election officials pursuant to legislatively passed local law and subject to certain limitations.

HB55 and SB99 (campanion legislation) - Summary:  Under existing law, there is no restriction regarding the amount of contributions by an individual, political action committee, or political party to candidates for the Alabama Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Court of Criminal Appeals, circuit courts, or district courts. Corporations are limited to contributions of $500.  This bill would impose a limitation on contributions for candidates for election to these courts in the amount of $500 per election (whether in-kind or otherwise), and would provide a mechanism for increasing the allowed contribution amount based on the consumer price index.

HB72 - Summary:  Under existing law, to be placed on the ballot, independent candidates must present a written petition signed by at least 3% of the qualified electors who cast ballots for Governor in the last general election.  This bill would lower that percentage to 1 % of such electors. HB72 Substitute 107129-1 has the reduction apply to only statewide offices.

HB140 - Requires the disclosure on any electioneering material of the person or entity that paid for the material distributed.   Churches, corporations, trade organizations and others need not disclose members’ names so long as these entities were not organized for political purposes.

One section forbids any publication without the above information if the publication gives the candidate’s name or image within 90 days of election.  It also forbids communications that allow a reasonable inference from the presentation and the content that it is intended to influence the outcome of an election.  If cost is below $10,000 for state office the communication is exempt.

Sections of this bill that requires reporting of contributions and expenditures for electioneering (and includes a brief and inconspicuous reference to support for propositions voted on in an election) strongly resemble those in Cam Ward’s bill HB 13.  This language seems crafted to close any possible loophole and to require disclosures that would allow for audits. 

HB161 - Under existing law, a qualified elector must provide a certain reason in order to vote an absentee ballot. This bill would allow any qualified elector to apply for and vote an absentee ballot without stating a reason.

HB283 and SB205 (companion legislation) - Synopsis:  Under existing law, a principal campaign committee or political action committee is required to file with the Secretary of State or judge of probate reports of contributions and expenditures at certain times before an election. This bill would provide that the reports shall be filed regardless if the candidate has an opponent in any primary, special, runoff, or general election.

SB145 - Synopsis:  Under existing law, write-in votes are permitted only in non-municipal general elections.  This bill would require that in order to have a write-in vote counted, the voter must write the name on the ballot and register the vote by a mark in the space designated for that particular office. 
    This bill would require that a write-in candidate be registered with the Secretary of State or the judge of probate as an official write-in candidate and comply with the provisions of the Fair Campaign Practices Act and the State Ethics Law in order for votes for the candidate to be counted.
    [Note:  SB145 is same as SB75 (a bill being monitored by LWVAL) with the addition of the following.]This bill would allow the chief elections official of the state and the chief elections official of the county where write-in votes are cast to determine whether the votes should be counted. This bill would provide that write-in votes would be counted and tabulated in the same manner as absentee votes.  If the officials believe, the write-in votes would make a difference in the outcome of the election they will be counted; the counting will be as with provisional ballots.

SB206 - Synopsis:  Under existing law, the filing of campaign finance disclosures is accomplished through the filing of paper documents. This bill would provide an additional procedure for the electronic filing of campaign finance disclosure reports in a computer format for contributions or expenditures of a certain amount and would provide a phase-in period. 

Electronic filing as well as paper filing would be required for contributions and expenditures over $25,000.



LWVAL's Position

LWVAL supports HB38
HB38 establishes uniform election laws and procedures as supported in the Election Laws positions and should make staffing of positions more consistent.

LWVAL supports HB55 and SB99
The Campaign Finance Reform position states:  “the methods of financing campaigns should ensure the public's right to know, combat corruption and undue influence, enable candidates to compete more equitably for public office . . . “Also aids in establishment of an independent judiciary.

LWVAL supports HB72 Substitute 107129-2.
Ballot access is an integral part of representative democracy.

LWVAL supports HB140 and as amended.
LWVAL supports HB140 and as amended based on its position on Campaign Finance Reform.

LWVAL supports HB161.
LWVAL supports HB161 based on its position on off-site voting. The LWVAL position on off-site voting was adopted 2/20/09 following a 21-month membership study and consensus and now allows LWVAL to support this legislation. The position calls for no excuse absentee ballots and early voting.

LWVAL supports HB283 and SB205
LWVAL supports both HB283 and SB205 based on its position on Campaign Finance Reform. This will insure full disclosure by all canidates. 

LWVAL supports SB145.
A write-in candidate and a write-in vote are not the same.  The Secretary of State’s office does not like the counting of write-in votes due to the time and effort involved.

For a citizen who writes in a name, the vote is often a protest vote – neither of the major candidates is acceptable to the voter and there is not third party option to use in protest.  The votes have the potential to be counted in this bill.

Write-in candidates (those who seek to gain office by a write-in campaign) should be covered by the Fair Campaign Practices Act and the State Ethics. 

LWVAL supports SB206.
LWVAL bases its support on The Alabama Legislature:  Facts and Issues. (See section on lobbying.)  Electronic filings are bneficial to full disclosure. They are more searchable and give improved citizen and press access to the records.




Progress of the Legislation

HB38 was prefiled 2/3/09 and assigned to the House Committee on Constitution & Elections (House C&E). 2/19/09 pending third reading on day 7. Favorable from Constitution and Elections. 3/3/09 passed House (91-0-0). First read in Senate, no committee listed.

HB55 was prefiled 2/3/09 and assigned to the House Committee on Constitution & Elections (House C&E).
SB99 was prefiled 2/3/09 and assigned to the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics & Elections (Senate C&E). 3/10 Pending 3rd read and favorable from CCFE&E. 5/14 indefinitely postponed.

HB72 was prefiled 2/3/09 and assigned to the House Committee on Constitution & Elections (House C&E). 2/19/09 pending third reading on day 7. Favorable from Constitution and Elections with 1 substitute 107129-2. 3/10/09 2nd read, 3rd read pending favorable from CCFE&E.

HB140 read for the first time on 2/3/09 and referred to the House Committee on Constitution and Elections (House C&E). 2/5/09 read for the second time and placed on the calendar. 2/12/09 read for third time and passed the House (100-0) and sent to the Senate. 2/19 sent to Senate Committee for Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections. 4/2/09 2nd read and amendment (11001-2) passed; pending 3rd read and favorable from CCFE&E.

HB161 read for the first time 2/3/09 and referred to the House of Representatives committee on Constitution and Elections. On 02/05/2009 read for the second time and placed on the calendar. Pending third reading. Favorable from Constitution and Elections. 

HB283 read for the first time on 2/3/09 and referred to the House Committee on Constitution and Elections (House C&E).
SB205 was read for the first time on 2/3/09 and referred to the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. Passed out of GA favorable and read for second time. 2/5/09 placed on House calendar. 2/26/09 pending 3rd read and favorable from House Committee on Constitution and Elections (House C&E). 5/15 third reading and passed on 101-0-1 roll call vote; sent to the governor’s office.

SB145 read for the first time on 2/3/09 and referred to the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics and Elections (Senate C&E). Reported favorable with one Substitute (108977-4). 

SB206 read for the first time on 2/3/09 and referred to the Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections Senate (C&E). 3/10/09 pending 3rd read favorable from CCFE&E.
 



LWVAL Action

LWVAL has expressed support for HB38, HB55 and SB99, HB72 Substitute 107129-2, HB140, HB161, HB283 and SB205, SB145, and SB206.


READ  HB38

READ HB55
READ SB99

READ HB72
Sub 107129-2

READ HB73

READ HB140
& AMENDMENT 110001-2

READ HB161

READ HB283
READ SB205

READ SB145 Substitute 108977-4

READ SB206


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