State Watch

Alabama voters approve measure to remove racist phrases from constitution

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Alabama voters on Tuesday approved a measure to allow the state to remove racist language that originally enforced Jim Crow-era restrictions from its state constitution. 

Alabama’s 1901 constitution included language to disenfranchise African Americans, ban interracial marriages and require segregation in public schools, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. Those sections have since been nullified via amendments and federal court rulings, but removing the language had become more of a challenge. 

Voters passed Amendment 4 with 67 percent support, according to The Associated Press, to allow state officials to recompile the constitution. Two similar proposals have failed in previous elections. 

The measure allows the Alabama legislature to rearrange the constitution, according to the ballot statement for the measure on the secretary of state’s website. The draft can remove only the racist language and language that is repetitive or no longer applies. 

The Alabama legislature will need to approve the changes by 2022, the AP noted, and then voters will decide on its fate in the 2022 general election. 

Other states this Election Day passed measures removing references to slavery in their constitutions. 

In Nebraska, voters approved a measure to remove language on the use of slavery as a punishment for convicted criminals. The state’s constitution has banned slavery and involuntary servitude since 1875, except as a punishment for a crime.

It has not been invoked in recent history but was once used to force former slaves back into unpaid labor for private parties and later for convict leasing. 

Voters in Utah came out in strong favor of a measure to remove slavery language from the state’s founding documents. The measure amends Section 21 of Article I of Utah’s constitution, removing language that disallowed slavery “except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

Tags 2020 election Alabama Nebraska Racism Slavery Utah
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