Public hearing held on bill targeting private funding for elections | #elections | #alabama

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – A public hearing was held on HB 194, which would prevent election officials from accepting private money to conduct an election. This is something both the secretary of state and voting rights organizations oppose.

The sponsor, Rep. Wes Allen, R-Pike and Dale counties, has said this is needed to keep election integrity intact after seven counties accepted private donations from Mark Zuckerberg to help fund their elections in 2020.

“I don’t know what they did with the money,” said Allen. “I don’t know if it skewed the election one way or the other.”

That’s why Allen says his bill is needed to stop the donations and keep running the elections in the hand of the officials.

“Purpose of funding certain election-related expenses, including voter education, voter outreach and voter registration programs,” said Allen.

Voting rights organizations say this will impact the work they do with those officials and how they help people like JaiGregory Clarke, a formerly incarcerated man.

He was released in 2017 but only recently got his right to vote back.

“I was issued a certificate of eligibility to register to vote by the board of pardon and paroles, and I took that to the local registrar’s office, who promptly denied me my right to vote,” said Clarke.

Clarke says without the help of a voting rights organization, he probably wouldn’t be registered to vote today.

“It took the assistance of the League of Women Voters and Greater Birmingham Ministries contacting the supervisors of my county registrar’s office to allow me to get my right to vote back,” said Clarke.

That’s something Clarke is thankful to have.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Clarke. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to have a voice in the policies that govern my community.”

The bill moves to the Senate floor for possible final passage.

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