Voting Restrictions Could Affect Alabama's Special US Senate Election

Roy Moore’s win in the Sept. 26 Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s US Senate seat previously occupied by Jeff Sessions has put an afterthought of a race back into the national spotlight. In a special election to be held on Dec. 12, Moore — a far-right former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who defeated the appointed incumbent Luther Strange — will face Democrat Doug Jones, a former US attorney who successfully prosecuted KKK members for the 1963 Birmingham church bombing.

Alabama has taken a deep-red turn in recent years, with Donald Trump winning 62 percent of the vote last year. But Moore — who infamously refused to obey a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had placed in the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building and was subsequently removed from office in 2003 — won his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012 with just 52 percent of the vote against a last-minute Democratic candidate, circuit court judge Bob Vance. An August 2017 poll found that Moore’s unfavorability ratings among even Alabama Republican primary voters hovered around 33 percent, while another poll released this week showed Jones to be within 8 points of Moore.

The election has drawn national attention due to Moore’s extremism, Trump’s dwindling popularity, and Democrats’ hopes for a wave in the 2018 midterms. In less than a week after Moore’s victory, Jones had raised over $820,000 from all 50 states. And this week, former Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Jones in Birmingham, telling the crowd: “When he wins this race it’ll send ripples down the country.”

Given the fact that the contest is shaping up to be closer than many originally thought, and that turnout tends to be lower for special elections, the state’s recent moves to restrict voting could make a critical difference in the outcome.

Alabama has long been an important battleground in the fight for voting rights. In 1965, it was the site of three Selma-to-Montgomery marches demanding voting rights…

Read more