Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill

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Active
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Issues

At a Glance

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Secretary of State on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries (GBM) to seek public records related to lists of purged voters, as well as Alabamians denied the right to vote due to felony convictions under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).

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About this Case

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. To do its work, GBM needs up-to-date public registration records, which Alabama is required to make public under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Unfortunately, Alabama has failed to do so.  

In May 2021, GBM sought the list of the voters removed from the voter rolls by the state’s list maintenance process, so GBM could encourage eligible voters to re-register to vote. These records allow GBM to reach out to eligible voters to reregister to vote and ensure voters are not being unlawfully purged by Alabama’s list maintenance process. 

In July 2021, GBM also requested the state’s list of voter registration applicants and registered voters who were denied registration or were purged by reason of a felony conviction. GBM uses these records in response to help Alabamians determine their eligibility to vote under a law passed by Alabama in 2017, which identified a limited list of felony convictions that are disqualifying. GBM uses these records to check for potential unlawful voter registration denials for people with prior, nondisqualifying felony convictions. Addtionally, GBM helps people disqualified for felony convictions understand if they are eligible for rights restoration and navigate the application process if so. 

Alabama has denied both requests in violation of the NVRA. First, Alabama refused to produce the list of purged voters without payment. Second, the state refuses to provide any list regarding voter registration denials or voter purges by reason of a felony conviction. These denials violate the NVRA’s Public Disclosure Provision, which requires that the state provide electronic copies of registration records which accurately reflect the current official lists of eligible voters free of cost. 

GBM’s efforts prevent unlawful voter registration denials and mitigate voter confusion for Alabama voters. Public disclosure of these records ensures that states comply with their obligations under the NVRA to maintain accurate and up-to-date voter lists and prevents unlawful voter registration denials. The court must step in to ensure that Alabama complies with its obligations under the NVRA to disclose public records about voter registration.

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