NATIONAL NEWS

Alabama lawmakers approve legislation to ensure President Biden is on the November ballot

May 2, 2024, 10:27 AM | Updated: 6:56 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama officials on Thursday approved legislation to ensure President Joe Biden will appear on the state’s November ballot, mirroring accommodations the state made four years ago for then-President Donald Trump.

The House of Representatives voted 93-0 for the legislation. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey signed the bill into law the same day, a spokeswoman said.

“This is a great day in Alabama when in a bipartisan manner, we passed this legislation to ensure that President Joe Biden gains access to the ballot in Alabama,” Democratic state Sen. Merika Coleman, the bill’s sponsor, said. The Republican-dominated Alabama Legislature approved the bill without a dissenting vote.

The issue of Biden’s ballot access has arisen in Alabama and Ohio because the states’ early certification deadlines fall before the Democratic National Convention begins on Aug. 19. Republican secretaries of state warned that Biden might not appear on state ballots.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states. Election after election, states across the country have acted in line with the bipartisan consensus and taken the necessary steps to ensure the presidential nominees from both parties will be on the ballot,” the Biden campaign said in a statement.

Alabama has one of the earliest candidate certification deadlines in the country, which has caused difficulties for whichever political party has the later convention date that year.

Trump faced the same issue in Alabama in 2020. The Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature passed legislation to change the certification deadline for the 2020 election to accommodate the date of the GOP convention.

“This is nothing new. We just need to fix this so the president can be on the ballot, just like our nominee can be on the ballot,” Republican House Speaker Pro Tem Chris Pringle said during the brief debate.

The Alabama legislation will defer the state’s certification deadline from 82 days before the general election to 74 days to accommodate the date of the Democrats’ nominating convention.

Litigation was almost a certainty if Alabama Republicans had declined to grant Biden ballot access after making accommodations in the past for GOP nominees. The Biden campaign asked Alabama to accept provisional certification, saying that has been done previously in Alabama and other states. Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen said he would not accept provisional certification because he didn’t think he had the authority to do so.

In Ohio, the state elections chief has said the Republican-led Legislature has until Thursday to approve an exemption to the state’s 90-day rule, which sets this year’s ballot deadline at Aug. 7. No bill appears to be forthcoming, but leaders of both parties haven’t entirely ruled one out. The state House and Senate both have voting sessions scheduled for Wednesday.

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Associated Press writer Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio, contributed to this report.

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