Tuesday’s special election in Alabama is monumental for the people who live in the state as well as for the rest of us across the United States. Of the two men vying to take the seat vacated by Jeff Sessions in February when he resigned to accept his new job as U.S. attorney general, one is a well-respected former U.S. attorney, and the other is an embattled former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who has been accused of questionable sexual misconduct and sexual assault of underage girls.
Because of the magnitude of the election and its potential repercussions, there have been many stories circulated about alleged voter suppression. One black voter from Alabaster, Ala., shared her experience at the polls with Twitter and The Root.
Brittany Melton is a 29-year-old web designer who has voted in the same place in Alabaster since she could vote. Even when she’s lived away from her hometown, she has either driven home to vote or voted through absentee ballot.
She discovered, in an election where the stakes are so high, that she as well as many other voters in the town had been marked “inactive.” This includes voters who have lived in the town longer than she’s been alive.
Those who had been marked inactive had to go to a special table in the polling place to fill out a form.
In an email, Melton told The Root: “I queued to vote, and the pollster saw I was marked inactive, so she sent me to another table. They said that because I was marked as inactive, I needed to complete a voter-update form in order to vote. Then I would need to requeue. The form seemed normal: name, address, ID number, etc.
“At the bottom, though, it required your birth state, city, county. To turn the form in, you had to complete the full form. I felt some kind of way (enough to tweet about it) because I was born in a different state, though I’ve lived in Alabama most of my life,” she added.
People who could not remember the name of the county they were born in were not able to complete the form. Imagine if you were born in some small town out of state but then lived in Alabama your entire life. Not knowing the name of the county, the city or the town you were born in would preclude you from voting in today’s election.
Fortunately for Melton, she had her birth certificate with her.
She expressed concern in her tweets for those who did not have extra ID as she did. While she was able to vote, imagine all the people who may have been prevented from voting because of this.
Melton said that all told, the process took her about 15 minutes, including filling out the extra form.
“One of my mom’s white co-workers had the same issue as I did, though I noticed most of us filling out forms were black women. Other than me, everyone else seemed to be 50 [years old or older].”
OK, Alabama. We see you.