ALABAMA (WRBL) – As the November election approaches and the focus is tight on the presidential race, Alabama voters will also have six constitutional amendments in their hands for a yes/no vote.
While politics and laws can get dense, let’s break down what each of the proposed amendments do, and what that means for Alabamians.
As voters will see on the ballot, Amendment 1 reads:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.Proposed by Act 2019-330
Simply put, the amendment seeks to make a change to the current version of Alabama’s Constitution regarding who is eligible to vote. The amendment itself does not have a cost or effect on the state budget, nor does it actually change the requirements of voting in the state.
Mostly, the change is focused on two words, “only” and “every.” Currently, the Alabama Constitution says that “Every citizen of the United States” who is eighteen and has lived in Alabama the required amount of time can vote in the state.
If passed, the amendment would change the wording to “Only a citizen of the United States” who is eighteen and has lived in Alabama for the required number of years can vote in Alabama.
A simple yes/no vote will follow the section describing the proposed amendment on the ballot.
On the ballot, Alabama voters will see the following as a description of Amendment 2, with a yes/no voting option:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the membership of the Court of the Judiciary and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the process of disqualifying an active judge; repeal provisions providing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices and appellate judges and the removal for cause of the judges of the district and circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, and judges of certain other courts by the Supreme Court; delete the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint an Administrative Director Courts; provide the Supreme Court of Alabama with authority to appoint an Administrative Director of Courts; require the Legislature to establish procedures for the appointment of the Administrative Director of Courts; delete the requirement that a district court hold court in each incorporated municipality with a population of 1,000 or more where there is no municipal court; provide that the procedure for the filling of vacancies in the office of a judge may be changed by local constitutional amendment; delete certain language relating to the position of constable holding more than one state office; delete a provision providing for the temporary maintenance of the prior judicial system; repeal the office of circuit solicitor; and make certain nonsubstantive stylistic changes.Proposed by Act 2019-187
In layman’s terms, Amendment 2 puts the passage of Act 2019-497 in voters’ hands. The law itself deals with Alabama Supreme nominations.
Currently, those hiring decisions are the sole responsibility of the Chief Justice, a position that changes relatively frequently.
If passed, Amendment 2 would make the entire Supreme Court responsible for hiring decisions, rather than just the Chief Justice of the state. This would provide continuity to the process, according to Sen. Arthur Orr, a sponsor of the amendment.
Additionally, the amendment would make changes to how county and city courts are operated in cities with less than 1,000 residents; increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission from nine to 11; let the Governor instead of Lt. Gov. appoint members of the Court of the Judiciary; prevent a judge from being automatically disqualified from holding office due to complaints being filed to the JIC; and makes it so a judge can only be removed from office by the Court of the Judiciary.
For the third amendment on the ballot, again with a yes/no vote, voters will decide how long a district or circuit court judge will serve if they’re appointed to fill a vacancy.
The note on the ballot for Amendment 3 reads:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a judge, other than a judge of probate, appointed to fill a vacancy would serve an initial term until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after the judge has completed two years in office.Proposed by Act 2019-346
Right now, a judge who is appointed to fill a vacancy serves for a one year term, or for the rest of the outgoing judge’s term. According to sponsors of the amendment, the change would instead align vacancies with the election cycle.
Alabama’s fourth proposed constitutional amendment deals with streamlining the state’s constitution.
Followed by an option to give a yes/no vote, the amendment on the ballot reads:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the voters of this state.Proposed by Act 2019-271
Simply put, Alabama’s constitution is long and state lawmakers proposed Amendment 4 to slim it down. According to the state’s Speaker of the House, Mac McCutcheon, close to 100,000 amendments have been added to the constitution since 1901.
The amendment, if passed, will allow lawmakers to remove amendments that have been overwritten by newer changes, but were never removed from the document itself.
The final amendments up for voters in Alabama to decide focus on two counties in the Shoals and protect someone, using deadly force in self-defense or to defend those on church property, from liability.
Should it pass, the two amendments will create a special Stand Your Ground law for churches in both Franklin and Lauderdale Counties. The vote is on the ballot for all Alabamians to decide.