Libertarian Party of Alabama challenges $34,000 cost for voter registration list

By Noddy A. Fernandez | Feb 5, 2019

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Legal Newsline) – A minor political party in Alabama alleges a state law that provides a voter registration list free of charge to major political parties but not minor ones is discriminatory.

Libertarian Party of Alabama filed a complaint on Jan. 23 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama against Alabama Secretary of State John Harold Merrill citing the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

According to the complaint, on Aug. 13, 2018, the plaintiff's chairperson wrote an email to the defendant's office requesting a copy of the Alabama voters registration list. The plaintiff alleges it received no response to its email and contacted the defendant's office again Dec. 31, 2018.

The plaintiff alleges claims on Jan. 7, it received an email response that in order to obtain a copy of the voter registration list in electronic format as requested, it would cost approximately $34,000. 

The suit states that Alabama law provides the voter registration list free of charge to major political parties and that charging minor political parties a "prohibitively expensive charge" is unconstitutional.

"Sections 17-4-33 and 17-4-38 and other provisions of Alabama law described herein that discriminate between major political parties on the one hand and minor political parties and independent candidates on the other with respect to the provision of voter registration lists, providing such lists to the former free of charge and to the latter only upon payment of an unjustifiably exorbitant, prohibitively expensive price, effectively denying them a copy, on their face and as applied to this plaintiff, violate plaintiff's rights guaranteed to them under the First Amendment and under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution," the suit states.

The plaintiff seeks preliminary and permanent injunction to prohibit the defendant from enforcing the statute and require the defendant to provide it free of charge, award attorney's fees, costs of action, and such and further relief as the court deems just and equitable. It is represented by David I. Schoen in Montgomery, Alabama.

U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama case number 2:19-cv-00069-ECM-SMD

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David I. Schoen Attorney at Law U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama

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