How Alabama Democracy Compares

In recent years, Alabamians’ rate of participation in elections has lagged behind other states as electoral competition has decreased and as the state has failed to adopt measures other states have that increase the convenience and access to voting. According to political scientists, Alabama “cost of voting” is among the highest in the country, ranking No. 46 among the 50 states. Meanwhile, most other states now provide measures like early in-person voting and no-excuse absentee voting, measures that correlate with increased participation.

A new report by PARCA, How Alabama Democracy Compares, provides a detailed comparison of Alabama’s approach to voter registration, access to ballots, and democratic participation with those of other states.

This report is an installment of PARCA’s yearlong series on the unfinished work of reforming Alabama’s Constitution. This project is supported, in part, by the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) Foundation.

Alabama has a history of limiting participation in the democratic process. The state’s 1901 Constitution disenfranchised blacks and poor whites for more than half a century, until, inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, the U.S. Congress and federal court swept away discriminatory barriers to voting.

In 2022, Alabama adopted a revised and reorganized state constitution, deleting the last written relics of the original discriminatory language on voting rights. However, the report makes clear that Alabama has not kept pace with other states’ adoption of measures that make it easier and more convenient to register and vote.

In addition to the report, PARCA’s data dashboard includes interactive versions of the charts, with information drawn from the National Conference of State Legislatures, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the University of Florida Election Lab.