Special to the
Opelika Observer

Following are updates to Alabama law regarding absentee voting registration and procedures, provided by Lee County Circuit Clerk Mary Roberson.

  1. Alabama Act 2019-507 became effective Aug. 1, 2019, establishing new requirements for voters casting absentee ballots. A copy of the voter’s valid photo identification must now be submitted along with the absentee ballot application. This will ensure that only eligible voters receive ballots for the election in which they are qualified to vote. Absentee Election Managers are no longer required to publish the list of absentee voters, their addresses and their polling places in the county courthouse. This law introduces two new instances for voters to submit an absentee ballot: if a voter is the caregiver to an immediate family member or if a voter has been incarcerated but has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony. Further, Act 2019-507 provides that a voter may apply for an emergency absentee ballot while serving as the caregiver to someone who requires medical treatment or if an immediate family member has passed away within five days of an election.
    Alabama Act 2019-359 became effective Sept. 1, 2019, allowing a permanently disabled voter to apply for a disabled voter absentee ballot. The application is required to be signed by the primary physician of the disabled voter and notarized. After it is verified that a voter’s disability prevents his or her attendance at the polls, the voter will be placed on a permanent absentee voter list and will automatically be mailed disabled voter absentee ballots before each election within that calendar year. The voter’s application for an absentee ballot is good through the end of the calendar year in which the application is filed. If an election continues into the following year, the application is valid for the entire election cycle. All updates are reflected in the information provided by the Alabama Secretary of State’s website, www.sos.alabama.gov
  2. The newly formatted absentee applications can be printed by going online to www.alabamavotes.gov and are also available by contacting Mary Roberson with the Absentee Elections Office at 334-737-3490 or sending mail to 205 S. 10th St. P.O. Box 1616 Opelika, AL 36804. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday excluding state holidays. United States Armed Forces members, including spouses, should contact their commanding Officer for an application or may go online: www.alabamavotes.gov to be issued a party ballot in the Primary, elections voters must specify on the application if they want a Democrat or Republican ballot. If no party is designated, an Amendment Only ballot will be issued. These elections only require one application, but you must select to receive a ballot for both primary and primary runoff elections on the application, or you will need to submit a separate application for both elections.
  3. Qualified voters can apply for an absentee ballot that can be cast by mail, commercial carrier or in person at the absentee election manager’s office, if he or she makes application in writing not fewer than five days prior to the election and meets one of the requirements listed in the application. Separate applications for absentee ballots are required for elections which are more than 42 days apart, except as to individuals voting pursuant to the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff.
    Completed absentee applications must provide the Alabama residence where the voter is registered to vote, even if the ballot is to be mailed to another address where the applicant voter regularly receives mail. If one has have moved and has not updated their polling place, they should contact the local Board of Registrars and update their address prior to applying for an absentee ballot.
    Any completed application must be returned by the voter in person or be sent by mail or commercial carrier. No one, not even a family member, can return another person’s application. Each application must be mailed separately. Multiple applications cannot be mailed in the same envelope, even if the voters live at the same address.
    Any registered elector who requires emergency treatment of a licensed physician within five days of an election may apply for an emergency absentee ballot for the election and may vote by returning the absentee ballot no later than noon on the day the election is held. The attendant physician shall describe and certify the circumstances as constituting an emergency on a special form designed by the Secretary of State and provided by his or her office to local absentee election managers. The special form shall be attached to the application.
    Any registered voter whose name appears on the poll list of qualified voters may vote by an emergency absentee ballot if he or she is required by his or her employer under unforeseen circumstances to be out of the county on an emergency business trip on election day. The voter shall apply for an emergency absentee ballot at the office of the absentee election manager no later than the close of the business day one day prior to the election. The applicant shall complete and file an application form for emergency absentee voters. The form shall contain an affidavit which the applicant shall sign or swear acknowledging that he or she was not aware of the out-of-county business requirement prior to five days before the election.
    The absentee election manager may not give any person access to completed and filed applications for absentee ballots. This information is not a matter of public record. It should be considered privileged information just the same as voter registration applications.
    The absentee election manager shall forward absentee ballots by US Mail to the applicant’s residence address or upon written request of the voter, to the address where the voter regularly receives mail or by handing the ballot to the voter in person or, in the case of medical emergency voting, to his or her designee in person.
    Voters must complete all the information on the affidavit of the absentee voter envelope.
    If the voter’s affidavit is not signed (or marked), and if the affidavit is not witnessed by two witnesses 18 years of age or older or notarized by a notary public or other officer authorized to acknowledge oaths prior to being delivered or mailed to the absentee election manager, the ballot will not be counted.
    Feb. 14, 2020 – last day to hand deliver voter registration to Board of Registrars for the March 3 primary election
    Feb. 17, 2020 – President’s Day Holiday (office closed)
    Feb. 27, 2020 – Last day that voters may apply for a regular absentee ballot for the primary election.
    March 2, 2020 – Last day voters can return in person, his or her regular absentee ballot. No one, not even a family member, can return another person’s ballot, (except a medical emergency voter named designee).
    Also, mailed ballots must be postmarked by the United State Postal Service no later than this date. March 3, 2020 (Election Day)
    -Mailed ballots must be received in mail no later than noon this date.
    -Voted medical emergency ballots delivered by the voter’s designee, must be received no later than noon today.
    March 26, 2020 – Last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the primary runoff election.
    March 31, 2020 – Primary runoff election day
    For more information about absentee voting, lee.alacourt.gov or alabamavotes.gov.