Alabama sends five constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot before adjourning

The Alabama Legislature adjourned its 2019 legislative session on May 31, 2019. In total, the legislature referred five constitutional amendments to the 2020 ballot where voters will approve or reject them. The measures will appear either on the March 3, 2020, primary ballot or the November 3, 2020, general election ballot. The measures are as follows:
  • The Alabama Judicial System Amendment (SB 216), sponsored by Sen. Arthur Orr (R-3), would revise multiple sections of the state constitution concerning the state judiciary, including removing the authority of the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court to hire the administrative director of courts and giving that authority to the Alabama Supreme Court as a whole. The amendment would also change the composition of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary so that three (instead of two) persons on the court are members of the State Bar. The amendment also removes the authority of the Lieutenant Governor to appoint one member to the court.
  • The Alabama Judicial Vacancies Amendment (HB 505), sponsored by Rep. David Faulkner (R-46), would change provisions related to the timeline, term length, and rules for judges appointed to fill vacancies.
  • The Alabama Changes to State Board of Education Amendment (SB 397), sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh (R-12), would change the state’s education board members from elected to appointed. It would also rename the State Board of Education to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education. Under the amendment, board members would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate rather than being elected by voters in one of the state’s eight education districts.
  • The Alabama Citizen Requirement for Voting Amendment (SB 313), sponsored by Sen. Del Marsh (R-12), would amend the Alabama Constitution to state that “only a citizen” rather than “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote in Alabama.
  • The Alabama Authorize Legislature to Recompile the State Constitution Amendment (HB 328), sponsored by Rep. Merika Coleman (D-57), would authorize the state legislature to revise and recompile the Alabama Constitution during the 2022 regular state legislative session and provide for voter ratification of the recompiled constitution. Authorized revisions to the constitution would, according to the text of the amendment, include removing all language in the state constitution considered to be racist; arranging the constitution into proper articles, parts, and sections; deleting repealed or duplicate provisions; arranging all local amendments by county; and consolidating provisions regarding economic development.
In Alabama, a 60 percent vote is needed in each chamber of the Alabama State Legislature to refer a constitutional amendment to the ballot for voter consideration.
On average since 1997, the legislature referred eight measures to even-year ballots, 81% of which were approved. The legislature may also refer additional amendments to the 2020 ballot during its 2020 legislative session, expected to take place during the early months of 2020.
As of June 3, 2019, 35 statewide ballot measures had been certified for the 2020 ballot in 16 states.
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