Background: House Bill 209 will make it a felony for absentee ballot applications or absentee ballots to be distributed, ordered, requested, collected, completed, obtained, or delivered by a person that does not fall into a narrow group of individuals outlined by the law. The bill would require those performing any of these services to either be related to the voter, living with the voter, or appointed by an election official. Absentee voters would be limited in who they choose to assist them in various aspects of the absentee voting process. Get out the vote (GOTV) volunteer organizations that often do not have direct relationships to voters may be prohibited from providing support to absentee voters due to this rule. Even if a friend attempts to pay gas money for someone to deliver an absentee ballot, this bill’s rule that criminalizes payment for absentee ballot services may prohibit it. 

Our Position: We oppose HB 209. The ACLU is committed to mitigating voter suppression by ensuring access to the ballot. This legislation would make it a felony for assistance to be provided to a qualified person with disability through delivering an absentee ballot. There is no exception in HB209 for a person with blindness, for instance to have a volunteer from a GOTV organization assist them in completing an absentee ballot application or an absentee ballot. This bill violates the protections established by Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act that allow voters to bring another person of their choosing to the voting booth to provide assistance. The ACLU believes that these protections extend to those that use the absentee ballot voting process, especially when a voter is homebound. With a number of organizations providing services to seniors, individuals with disabilities, or people that are homebound, this bill prevents their work to increase access. Criminalizing assistance that provides access to the voting process to others limits participation for Alabama’s most vulnerable citizens. 


Rep. Jamie Kiel



Bill number

HB 209