The Department of Justice (DOJ) intervened in a lawsuit filed by liberal groups against the State of Alabama’s new ballot harvesting law.

The ACLU, NAACP and other groups filed a lawsuit in federal court in April against Attorney General Steve Marshall, Alabama's 42 district attorneys and Secretary of State Wes Allen to block the recently enacted Senate Bill 1, which increased penalties for ballot harvesting in Alabama

The groups have also filed a request for a preliminary injunction to stop the new law from being in effect during the upcoming general election in November. A federal judge hasn’t ruled on the preliminary injunction motion yet.

Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general with the DOJ’s Civil Rights division, implied in a filing on Monday the new law runs afoul of Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act.

Clarke wrote, “Section 208’s expansive right to assistance contains only two exceptions: persons with disabilities or inability to read or write needing help to vote cannot receive assistance from someone affiliated with (1) their employer or (2) their union.”

“(The state of Alabama) counters that SB 1 incorporates verbatim Section 208’s rights and thus does not criminalize any voting assistance that is both required by reason of a voter’s disability and provided by someone of that voter’s choice. Defendants also contend that Section 208 permits state-law restrictions on who may serve as an assistor beyond the limitations provided in federal law and therefore does not preempt SB 1. Defendants are wrong that federal law permits restrictions beyond those provided in Section 208. Accordingly, this Court should either read SB 1 as limited by Section 208, or find that, to the extent that SB 1 conflicts with Section 208, SB 1 is preempted,” she said.

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