On October 4, Judge Myron Thompson from the U.S District Court for the Middle District of Alabama ruled in favor of Greater Birmingham Ministries in a lawsuit seeking to compel the state of Alabama to comply with federal law and turn over records related to purged voter lists and people denied the right to vote because of felony convictions.
The opinion rules in favor of Greater Birmingham Ministries on all counts and directs Secretary Merrill to send Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM) all the requested records. The opinion also points out that time is of the essence, as the voter registration deadline for Alabama is October 25th and GBM’s efforts to conduct voter outreach have already been impeded by the state’s refusal to comply with the National Voter Registration Act.
“Greater Birmingham Ministries strengthens our democracy by bringing more Alabamians into the democratic process. This work is impossible to do when the Secretary of State stonewalls access to voter purge records that they are required to disclose under the law,” said Danielle Lang, senior director of voting rights at Campaign Legal Center. “At a time when Alabama’s discriminatory voting policies are under a microscope, this ruling is a win for transparency and will allow Greater Birmingham Ministries to help more voters make their voice heard.”
GBM engages in voter outreach efforts for its community members, including ensuring Alabamians maintain their active registration and helping eligible Alabamians with prior felony convictions apply for rights restoration and register to vote. Access to up-to-date public registration records, which Alabama is required to make public under the National Voter Registration Act, is critical to conducting this work.
“This victory is bittersweet. GBM has been trying for well over a year to get these records released pursuant to the NVRA. The time, money, and effort wasted by the Secretary of State giving us the run around is shameful,” said Tari Williams, Organizing Director at Greater Birmingham Ministries. “These resources could have been put to better use by correcting erroneous denials of voter registrations, informing tens of thousands of Alabamians with felony convictions of their immediate eligibility to vote upon enactment of the 2017 Moral Turpitude Law, and/or the process for rights restoration (where applicable), and implementing stronger protections against flawed voter purging. GBM will continue to be a watchdog, protector and advocate of voting rights for all Alabamians. ”