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Stories about Alabama

Republicans retain two Alabama state legislative seats in special elections on July 13

Special general elections were held in District 14 of the Alabama State Senate and District 73 of the Alabama House of Representatives on July 13. The primary was held on March 30, and the filing deadline to run passed on Jan. 26. The Republican primary for the House District 73 seat went to a primary runoff on April 27.

In District 14, April Weaver (R) defeated Virginia Applebaum (D) for the seat. Weaver received 89.6% of the unofficial election night vote. The seat was vacated by Cam Ward (R), who was appointed as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles on Dec. 7. Ward had been a member of the state Senate since 2010. 

In District 73, Kenneth Paschal (R) defeated Sheridan Black (D) for the seat. Paschal received 74.9% of the unofficial election night vote. The seat was vacated by Matt Fridy (R), who was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Nov. 2020. Fridy had been a member of the state House since 2014. 

There is one additional special election scheduled in the state this year. Kenyatté Hassell (D) is facing Loretta Grant (R) in the Sept. 7 general election for the District 78 seat in the state House. Hassell progressed to the general election after winning the special Democratic primary runoff on June 22. Grant advanced to the general after the special Republican primary was canceled. 

The Sept. 7 election will mark the fifth state legislative special election in Alabama in 2021. This is a 10-year high for special elections in the state. The previous yearly high was four special elections in 2013. Alabama held a total of 23 special elections between 2010 and 2020. Alabama held only one special election in 2020 for House District 49.

Additional reading: 

Alabama State Senate District 14

Alabama House of Representatives District 73

Alabama House of Representatives District 78

Alabama state legislative special elections, 2013

Alabama state legislative special elections, 2020



Special elections to be held on July 13 in two Alabama state legislative districts

Special elections are scheduled for July 13 for District 14 of the Alabama State Senate and District 73 of the Alabama House of Representatives. The winners of the special elections will serve until Nov. 7, 2022.

  • In Senate District 14, Virginia Applebaum (D) and April Weaver (R) are running in the special election. The seat became vacant on Dec. 7 after Cam Ward (R) was appointed to serve as director of the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles by Gov. Kay Ivey (R). Ward had represented the seat since 2010.
  • In House District 73, Sheridan Black (R) is facing off against Kenneth Paschal (R). The special election became necessary after Matt Fridy (R) was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in Nov. 2020. Fridy had represented District 73 since 2015.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 26-8 margin with one vacancy and the state House by a 76-27 margin with two vacancies.

As of July, 40 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 17 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Alabama held 23 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Filing deadline to run for elected office is July 10 in Birmingham, Alabama

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Birmingham, Alabama, is on July 10, 2021. Prospective candidates may file for the following nonpartisan offices:

• Mayor

• All nine seats on the city council

• Nine of the 10 seats on the Birmingham City Schools school board

The general election is scheduled for August 24. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote in the general election, the top two candidates with the most votes will advance to a runoff election on October 5, 2021.

Birmingham is the largest city in Alabama and the 99th-largest in the U.S. by population.

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Redistricting review: Federal court rejects Alabama’s attempt to force early release of Census Bureau redistricting data

In this week’s Redistricting Review, we cover news out of Alabama and Colorado.

Alabama: On June 29, a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama rejected an attempt by Alabama state officials to force the U.S. Census Bureau to release redistricting data in advance of August 16, the date by which the Bureau has said it will release the data to the states.

Federal law requires that the Bureau deliver redistricting data to the states by April 1 of the year following a census. However, due to delays in conducting the 2020 census and processing the data, the Bureau announced in early 2021 that it would miss this deadline. The state of Alabama sued the Census Bureau on March 11. In his complaint, Alabama Solicitor General Edmund G. LaCour, Jr., said, “The Bureau has no authority to grant itself this extension and deprive Alabama of information to which it is entitled.” LaCour also alleged that the U.S. Census Bureau “intends to use a statistical method called differential privacy to intentionally skew the population tabulations given to States to use for redistricting,” thereby “denying Alabama accurate information about where Alabamians actually live.”

LaCour asked the court to issue an order barring application of the differential privacy method and directing the U.S. Census Bureau to deliver data to the states by March 31. A three-judge panel of Judges Kevin Newsom, Emily Marks, and R. Austin Huffaker (all Donald Trump (R) appointees) heard the case.

The court unanimously rejected Alabama’s request: “The court cannot force the Bureau to do the impossible – that is, comply with an already-lapsed deadline. … Furthermore, the Bureau has made quite clear that it will be able to deliver the redistricting data to the State by August 16, 2021. Again, Plaintiffs have acknowledged that date suffices for them to be able to complete redistricting without injury. We see no prejudice to Plaintiffs in denying a writ of mandamus requiring the Bureau to issue the data any earlier.”

Colorado: On June 29, staff of the Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released preliminary district maps for the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate. The commission will now conduct at least three public hearings on the proposed maps in each of the state’s current congressional districts. This makes for a total of at least 21 public hearings, all of which must also be broadcast online.

After public hearings are concluded, the commission can take a vote on the preliminary map or ask commission staff to make revisions. In order to enact a map, eight of the commission’s 12 members (including at least two unaffiliated members) must approve of it. The Colorado Supreme Court must also sign off on the map.

The staff of the Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission released preliminary congressional district maps on June 23.

Additional reading:

Redistricting in Alabama after the 2020 census

Redistricting in Colorado after the 2020 census



Kenyatté Hassell wins Democratic nomination in special primary runoff for Alabama House District 78

A special Democratic primary runoff for District 78 in the Alabama House of Representatives was held on June 22, 2021. Kenyatté Hassell defeated Donald Williams and advanced to the general election.

The general election is scheduled for September 7. The filing deadline passed on March 23. Hassell will be running against Loretta Grant (R).

The special election was called after Kirk Hatcher (D) was elected to the Alabama State Senate in a special election on March 2, 2021. Hatcher served from 2018 to 2021. 

The September 7 special election will mark the fifth Alabama state legislative special election this year and the third special election for the state house of representatives. Ben Robbins (R) defeated Fred Crum (D) in the January 19 special election for House District 33. Virginia Applebaum (D) and April Weaver (R) will compete for Senate District 14 and Sheridan Black (D) will face Kenneth Paschal (R) in House District 73 on July 13.

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Top-two vote-getters in Alabama House District 78 Democratic primary head to June 2 primary runoff

A special Democratic primary was held for Alabama House District 78 on May 25. Kenyatté Hassell and Donald Williams advanced to the Democratic primary runoff after defeating Terance Dawson and Roderick Thornton. 

The primary runoff is scheduled for June 22. The Democratic primary runoff winner will face Loretta Grant (R) in the general election on Sept. 7. Grant was the only Republican candidate to file, so the Republican primary was canceled.

The special election was called after Kirk Hatcher (D) was elected to the Alabama State Senate in a special election on March 2. Hatcher served in the state House from 2018 to 2021.

As of May 2021, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Alabama held 23 state legislative special elections from 2010 to 2020, about two per year on average.

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Special primary election to be held in Alabama state House district

A special Democratic primary will be held on May 25 for District 78 in the Alabama House of Representatives. A Democratic primary runoff, if necessary, will take place on June 22. The winner of the Democratic primary will face Loretta Grant (R) in the special general election on September 7.

Terance Dawson, Kenyatté Hassell, Roderick Thornton, and Donald Williams will face off in the Democratic primary. The special election became necessary after Kirk Hatcher (D) was elected to the Alabama State Senate in a special election on March 2. Hatcher served in the state House from 2018 to 2021. He was elected in 2018 with 83% of the vote.

Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 26-8 margin with one vacancy and the state House by a 76-27 margin with two vacancies.

As of May, 38 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year.

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Five constitutional amendments certified to appear on 2022 ballot in Alabama so far

As of May 4, 2021, the Alabama State Legislature has referred five statewide ballot measures to the 2022 ballot. One measure will be on the May 24 ballot. Four measures will be on the Nov. 8 ballot. The legislature unanimously approved four of the amendments. The other amendment, which would ban election and voting changes for six months before a general election, was passed largely along party lines with most Republicans in favor and most Democrats opposed.

In Alabama, both chambers of the legislature must approve proposed constitutional amendments by a 60% vote in one session to refer them to the voters.

May 24, 2022:

  1. House Bill 565 would amend the state constitution to authorize $85 million in bonds for improvement, renovation, acquisition, construction, and maintenance of state parks managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and historical sites managed by the Alabama Historical Commission, excluding the Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury. The measure was passed by a vote of 29-0 in the Senate and 98-0 in the House.

November 8, 2022:

  1. House Bill 388 would require that any legislation changing the conduct of a general election must be implemented at least six months before the next affected general election. It was passed in the House by a vote of 75-24 and in the Senate by a vote of 25-4. In the House 74 Republicans and one Democrat were in favor of the amendment, and 24 Democrats were opposed. In the Senate, 24 Republicans and one Democrata were in favor, and two Republicans and two Democrats were opposed.
  2. Senate Bill 68 would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary. It was passed in the Senate by a vote of 28-0 and in the House by a vote of 90-0.
  3. House Bill 131 would amend the Alabama Constitution to provide that the legislature may enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The legislature also passed House Bill 130, which would take effect if the amendment is approved. House Bill 130 enumerates offenses for which bail may be denied by a court, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and more. For individuals charged with listed offenses under the bill, bail could be denied “if the prosecuting attorney proves by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance in court or protect the safety of the community or any person, may deny a defendant’s bail.” It was passed by a vote of 30-0 in the Senate and 92-0 in the House.
  4. House Bill 178 would allow certain cities that were previously authorized to pass a special property tax to pay for bonds or other forms of debt to fund capital improvements to instead use the tax revenue to pay for capital improvements directly. It would also validate any past use of such property tax revenue directly for capital improvements. It was passed by a vote of 98-0 in the House and 29-0 in the Senate.

A total of 88 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 2000 to 2020. Sixty-nine were approved (78.41%), and 22 were defeated (21.59%). All but three measures were on even-year ballots. From 2000 to 2020, the number of measures on statewide ballots during even-numbered years ranged from four to 15.



Kenneth Paschal wins special primary runoff in Alabama House district

A Republican primary runoff was held on April 27 in the special election for District 73 of the Alabama House of Representatives. Kenneth Paschal earned 51% of the vote in the runoff, defeating Leigh Hulsey. Paschal and Hulsey advanced from the Republican primary on March 30. Sheridan Black advanced from the Democratic primary without opposition and will face off against Paschal in the general election on July 13. The winner of the special election will serve until November 2022.

The seat became vacant after Matt Fridy (R) was elected to the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals in November 2020. Fridy had represented the district since 2014. He won re-election in 2018 with 69% of the vote.

Heading into the special election, Republicans have a 76-27 majority in the Alabama House with two vacancies. Alabama has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

As of April, 33 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in 16 states. Between 2011 and 2020, an average of 75 special elections took place each year. Alabama held 23 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2020.

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Alabama legislature sends two constitutional amendments to 2022 ballot

On April 15, 2021, the Alabama State Legislature gave final approval to two constitutional amendments that will appear on the 2022 ballot.

One measure would amend the Alabama Constitution to provide that the legislature may enumerate offenses for which bail may be denied. The measure is referred to as Aniah’s Law. The legislature also passed House Bill 130 which would take effect if the amendment is approved. House Bill 130 sets the specific offenses for which bail may be denied by a court, including murder, kidnapping, rape, assault, and more. For individuals charged with listed offenses under the bill, bail could be denied “if the prosecuting attorney proves by clear and convincing evidence that no condition or combination of conditions of release will reasonably ensure the defendant’s appearance in court or protect the safety of the community or any person.”

The bill is named after Aniah Blanchard who was murdered in 2019 in Alabama after the suspect was released on bond after being charged with attempted murder, kidnapping, and robbery. Amendment sponsor Chip Brown said “too many of those who are accused of violent crimes are bonding out of jail and committing even more serious offenses, and it is time for law-abiding Alabamians to start fighting back. Denying bail to those accused of violent offenses is a commonsense answer to a dangerous societal problem.” The measure was passed by a vote of 30-0 in the Senate with four members not voting and 92-0 in the House with 11 members not voting.

The other measure would remove orphans’ business from the jurisdiction of county probate courts. County probate courts would continue to be responsible for adoptions, guardianships, and granting letters of testamentary. The measure was passed by the Senate in a vote of 28-0 with seven members not voting and by the House in a vote of 90-0 with 13 members not voting.

Three other constitutional amendments have passed one chamber of the Alabama state legislature and will appear on the November 2022 ballot if they pass in the second chamber. The amendments would

  1. require changes to laws governing the conduct of a general election to be implemented at least six months from the general election;
  2. authorize $85 million in bonds for state parks improvement; and
  3. create the Alabama Education Lottery, authorize sports betting, and authorize casino-style games in certain facilities in specific counties.

A total of 102 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Alabama from 1998 to 2020, of which 80 were approved and 22 were defeated. Between 1998 and 2020, an average of eight measures appeared on the ballot in Alabama during even-numbered election years.