State of Alabama

Alabama Voter Purge NVRA Challenge

Greater Birmingham Ministries v. Merrill

Lawsuit filed by Greater Birmingham Ministries — a nonprofit civil rights organization — against Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) due to his refusal to produce records of voters who were purged after the 2020 election and records of voters registration applicants who were denied registration or purged from the state’s voter rolls because of felony convictions dating back at least two years. Specifically, Merrill refused to produce the requested voter purge records without payment of over $1,000 and also refused to produce the felony records altogether, claiming that they were “outside the scope” of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The plaintiff alleges that the secretary’s refusal to produce both sets of records violates the Public Disclosure Provision of the NVRA that “enables the public to monitor states’ compliance with the NVRA’s requirements and thereby furthers the federal legislation’s purpose of ensuring effective, accurate, and non-discriminatory voter registration practices.” The plaintiff further claims that under Section 8 of the NVRA, “the Secretary of State’s decision to charge for electronic production of these records is not proper.” 

From July 28-29, 2022, a trial was held. On Oct. 4, the judge issued an opinion in favor of the plaintiff on all claims and ordered the Alabama secretary of state to produce all of the records requested by the plaintiff in digital form “immediately,” including those records related to voters who were purged following the 2020 election and those pertaining to individuals with prior felony convictions who were purged or denied voter registration. In her opinion, the judge concluded that all of the plaintiff’s record requests fall within the “scope of the NVRA’s public-inspection provision.” Lastly, the judge ordered that the parties “have until November 22, 2022, to reach an agreement as to a reasonable fee for the records requested by and turned over to plaintiff…based on the actual costs that defendant Merrill incurs in their production to Greater Birmingham Ministries.” 

On Oct. 31, 2022, the Alabama secretary of state appealed the decision to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

RESULT: On June 26, 2024, the 11th Circuit issued an opinion reversing the district court and ruled that the NVRA does not require Alabama to release these voting records electronically.

Case Documents

Case Documents (11th CIRCUIT)

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