Absentee voting in Alabama: What you need to know

Your Local Election HQ

BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — Election officials began sending absentee ballots out by mail today, but they’re already inundated with applications and questions about the process.

Karen Dunn Burks, the absentee election manager for the Jefferson County Bessemer Division, said she’s already received about 3,500 applications for absentee ballots, many more than what she’s seen at this point leading up to previous elections.

“It is definitely higher,” Burks said. “And I know that with the pandemic, that makes a difference and maybe it’s just the election that we’re in and a combination. But the volume is greater than I’ve seen.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, any Alabamian who feels unsafe voting in-person is allowed to cast an absentee ballot for the 2020 general election. The change has led to more interest in the ballots and also some confusion about them.

Burks said some people have heard about other states sending absentee ballots to all voters, and mistakenly thought the same was happening here.

“That’s not how it works,” she said. “You have to apply for it.”

There also are rules for applications. You’re not allowed to include two in the same envelope. And once you’ve filled out the ballot, you’ll have to send it in by mail or drop it off in-person at your local elections office. There are no ballot drop boxes like you might find in other states.

But there are multiple options for getting a ballot. You can fill one out in-person at the local elections office or download one from the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.

To avoid any confusion that might lead to delays, Burks said it’s wise to vote early.

“Start the process early,” she said. “If its a (mail-in), and you’re mailing it in both ways, you’re going to have to make sure that you get that application into my office and allow time for the turnaround.”

If you’re dropping off your ballot in-person, you have to do so by Oct. 29. Learn more about absentee ballot applications here.


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