Election Administration, “Days of Yore” Edition: Alabama Legislation Would End Newspaper Voter Registration Lists

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[Image courtesy of WHNT]

When you talk to election officials across the country, you often hear them talk about how their jobs are occasionally made more difficult by outdated election laws. The Alabama Legislature is trying to prune away one such (surprisingly old-fashioned) requirement. WHNT has more:

State legislators are reviewing a bill that would end a long-standing law that requires county governments to publish their voter registration rolls in local newspapers.
County commissioners across Alabama say the current law is not only outdated due to a massive shift away from newspaper readership, but also a waste of taxpayer money.

Rep. Howard Sanderford (R-Huntsville) is sponsoring HB 71, which would give county officials the option to publish those voter lists on their own county websites for free …

“It is very outdated law,” said Sanderford. “Taxpayer dollars, $1.4 million dollars every election cycle in Alabama being spent on something that’s absolutely outdated and useless.”

A big reason why the law has persisted is that the recipients of that money aren’t quite ready to give it up:

Sanderford said the nearly century-old law has been a budget booster for newspapers, many of which oppose the legislation …

The Alabama Press Association said it is staying neutral on the bill. Officials in Madison County told WHNT News 19 they spent well over $50,000 on its newspaper list last election cycle, which included more than 220,000 names.

Notwithstanding that resistance, it appears that the change is on its way with a small nod to the newspapers:

HB 71 has already passed the House and now awaits a vote in the Senate. The legislation would still require county officials to post a half-page newspaper ad directing readers to where they can find their county’s voter registration list.

This change would appear to be somewhat overdue, but better late than never … Stay tuned!

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