Alabama House passes bill to prevent new election laws within six months of a general election

Article by: Henry Thornton

April 7, 2021


MONTGOMERY — The Alabama House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bill that would prevent the State of Alabama from implementing any legislative changes to election procedure within six months of a general election.

The legislation, HB 388, is sponsored by Rep. Jim Carns (R-Vestavia Hills). Since the legislation proposes an amendment to the state’s constitution, it must be approved by a majority of Alabama voters if it makes it through the legislative process.

Carns said on the floor he felt the bill was necessary “to make sure we don’t have any slip-ups or any challenges of elections in the future.”

The bill comes as Republicans nationwide have expressed concern with the actions of states such as Pennsylvania, which continually tweaked its election procedures until very shortly before the general election in 2020.


The text of HB 388 that would alter Alabama’s law reads in its entirety:

The implementation date for any bill enacted by the Legislature in a calendar year in which a general election is to be held and relating to the conduct of the general election shall be at least six months before the general election.

Carns insisted that in his more than two decades serving in the legislature it is one of the most simple bills he has ever brought before the chamber.

Ultimately, HB 388 passed the House on a party-line vote of 75-24.

Members of the Democratic Party in the House were strongly opposed to the bill, engaging in over 90 minutes of debate about the measure when it was first introduced during the previous legislative day and ultimately pushing the Republican majority to introduce a debate-ending cloture motion on Tuesday.

Democrats raised many general objections to the nationwide trend of Republicans believing election laws need altering.

Rep. Ralph Howard (D-Greensboro) claimed Alabama was going to limit its ability to conduct safe elections during a future pandemic.

Carns responded that emergency actions taken by the governor will still be permitted and that his proposed legislation only guards against the legislature implementing new election rules.

Carns also pointed out that his bill would prevent a party with a supermajority from doing any late-in-the-game changes to election law if it wanted to help its candidates.

HB 388 now heads to the Alabama Senate for further consideration.

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