Congressional hopeful Mallory Hagan on Thursday held a press conference on the steps of the Tuskegee Courthouse where she announced a “shockingly high” number of Alabama voters from her district had been removed from active voter lists over the past year, prompting her to create a Voter Protection Committee.
Hagan is the Democratic nominee in Alabama’s 3rd U.S. District where she is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers. She said her campaign found “well over 55,000 voters have been disqualified or labeled ‘inactive’ since February of 2017 in the 3rd Congressional District alone.”
“Eight months ago, I chose to run for this office because I saw the people around me, the people I know and love, struggling.” said Hagan. “…not through a fault of their own, or through an act of god, but struggling because every day the people of East Alabama face unnecessary bureaucratic burdens. Our schools lack funding, our college students drown in debt, our veterans are denied the care they need, our leaders are wallowing in corruption and our hospitals are closing. My community and our state’s people deserve better.”
She continued, “Today, I tell our voters that we must be on high alert… According to our most recent findings, more than 1 in 10 voters here in East Alabama have been removed from the active voter rolls. These voters are either entirely disqualified or have been marked ‘inactive’… We have reason to believe this number is much higher.”
Hagan said the Voter Protection Committee was created in order to protect voters from voter suppression efforts between now and election day.The committee will be comprised of lawyers throughout the district working pro-bono to assist in monitoring and addressing voter suppression concerns.
“To the voters of East Alabama, I say this: we have your back. If you fear your voice will be lost in the system, if you don’t trust that a government that has failed you could ever be fixed, know that change will not happen until we step up, even when the going gets hard. We cannot allow complications to derail the very elections which are the foundation of democracy. Check your registration status today, find your polling place, and get your ID ready,” Hagan added.
Voter roll removal
Beginning in January of 2017, as required by the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office began a process of contacting all 3.3 million registered Alabama voters. This process, also required under state law, is a two-part mailing program to contact voters and give them the opportunity to verify or update their voter registration information. Additionally, this process provides for the removal of voters that fail to respond to the mailer for that four year election cycle and do not participate in any election during that same four year period.
The process begins with non-forwardable postcards being mailed to every registered voter in Alabama. The post card asks the recipient to review their registration information and if the information is accurate they are asked to retain the card. If the information is incorrect or needs to be updated or if the voter on the card no longer lives at that residence the voter is asked to mark return to sender on the card and place it back in the mail. When the voter places the card back in the mail each postcard is delivered to the local county board of registrars office. At that time, it is scanned into the system and recorded that the card was returned.
A second post card follows the first mailing but is only sent to the registered voters for which the first postcard was returned to sender. This postcard is allowed to be forwarded to voters that may have a forwarding address on file with the post office. These post cards inform voters that the initial mailing was marked return to sender and that they should either update their information or contact the registrars office to have their name removed if they are no longer located in the state. Voters are also able to update their information through the Secretary of State’s online voter registration platform or the Vote for Alabama app (available for Android and iOS devices). Voters that do not respond to this mailing or that have their postcard returned to sender will be marked as inactive. Inactive voter registration status means that a voter is able to vote as a normal voter on election day but they will also be asked to update their voter registration information when they visit the polls on election day.
Voters that wish to check their registration status can do so in a multitude of ways. To check your status electronically voters can visit https://myinfo.alabamavotes.gov/VoterView/Home.do. To check via phone voters can call the Secretary of State’s Office at (334) 242-7210 or their local board of registrars office.
The last day to register to vote is Monday, Oct. 22. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.