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

The ACLU of Alabama claimed the law "directly targets, drastically restricts and severely penalizes basic nonpartisan civic engagement efforts that enable all Alabamians to access their freedom to vote."

State Sen. Garlan Gudger (R-Cullman), one of the bill's sponsors, responded to 1819 News about the lawsuit: "Allowing ballot harvesting undermines the security and authenticity of our elections and compromises our trust in the electoral process." 

"Without this legislation, out-of-state organizations can freely manipulate our elections by offering payments for absentee ballots and mailing pre-filled ballot applications to voters. The Anti-Ballot Harvesting Bill prioritizes transparent, trackable, and publicly verifiable elections to address voters' concerns," Gudger said. "Our elections are the foundation of our democratic republic, and nobody should be paid for their absentee application or their ballot. SB1 was crafted with the understanding of the law to preserve our constitutional principles and ensure the people of Alabama manage our elections without interference. I have complete faith in the justice system to uphold the integrity of our elections."

Laney Rawls, a spokeswoman for Allen, said in a statement Allen couldn't comment on the substance of the pending federal court litigation in the Northern District of Alabama that was recently filed. 

"Further, because Secretary Allen is a named defendant in the case, questions regarding the litigation should be directed to the Office of the Attorney General of Alabama. Secretary Allen stands by his previous statements supporting SB1 and its role in protecting the absentee elections process in Alabama," Rawls said.

Gov. Kay Ivey signed the legislation into law in March.

Allen said in a March statement, "As Secretary of State, ensuring fair, secure, and transparent elections is a top priority. Today, Alabama elections were protected and strengthened. The passage of SB1 is a victory for Alabama elections."

"Free and fair elections are the foundation of our constitutional republic. The passage of SB1 signals to ballot harvesters that Alabama votes are not for sale," Allen said. "Governor Ivey and the Alabama legislature have made it clear that Alabama voters have the right to cast their own vote without undue influence. I want to commend Senator Garlan Gudger and Representative Jamie Kiel for championing this legislation and for their dedication to protecting the vote of Alabama citizens.

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