Alabama Releases Official Vote Totals for U.S. House Election from Last Month

Alabama held a special U.S. House election on December 17, 2013, for the First District. Only two candidates were on the ballot: Republican nominee Bradley Byrne and Democratic nominee Burton LeFlore. The total vote cast was only 51,406 votes, including miscellaneous write-ins.

The only independent candidate who petitioned to be on the ballot, James Hall, had turned in almost 3,000 signatures by the September deadline, and a few hundred more afterwards. Despite a showing of support that exceeds 6% of the total vote cast in that election, he was barred from the ballot because the state demanded almost 6,000 valid signatures. He had sued, arguing that the petition burden should be lowered due to the limited time allowed for collecting signatures, but the federal courts refused to put him on the ballot.

The state insisted that Hall be barred from the ballot, partly on the grounds that the overseas absentee ballots had already been printed and mailed. Hall said he waived his right to be on those ballots. According to the state, only 28 overseas absentee ballots were even returned for this election.

Hall’s lawsuit is still not over, and he hopes to win declaratory relief that Alabama must, in future special elections, either reduce the petition requirement or permit a later deadline. The state is arguing that his lawsuit is moot because the election is over, but the U.S. Supreme Court has said that constitutional ballot access lawsuits are not moot just because the election is over.

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