The organization Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filed a federal lawsuit against Alabama for the required religious oath on its voter registration form. Currently, Alabama is the only state in the country that requires this mandate.
Voters are required in the state to swear, “so help me God.” However, it lacks a secular affirmation, said the group, which promotes the separation between church and state.
“The Alabama secretary of state excludes Alabama citizens from being able to vote if they are unable to swear a religious oath,” the lawsuit stated. “The secretary of state’s official policy is to hinder the registration of voters who are unable to swear ‘so help me God.’ This policy violates the rights of the plaintiffs and others under the First and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution.”
The lawsuit asserted that states, including Alabama, allow attorneys, jurors, witnesses, and others who must take an oath to make a secular affirmation when they can’t swear “so help me God” as a matter of conscience.
Lead plaintiff and atheist Randal Cragun contacted the secretary of state’s office about the process of registering to vote without swearing an oath. According to FFRF, the director of elections informed him, “There is no legal mechanism to register to vote in AL without signing the oath as it is stated. If you cross out a portion, the board of registrars in your county will reject the application and ask you to resubmit.”
The organization is seeking a “permanent injunction (a) prohibiting the secretary of state from requiring voters who register to swear so help me God, and (b) ordering the secretary of state to provide registration forms that permit the plaintiffs to register to vote without swearing ‘so help me God.’”