MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Secretary of State John H. Merrill has officially extended the opportunity for anyone concerned about COVID-19 to apply for and cast an absentee ballot for the upcoming municipal elections.
At the request of the Alabama League of Municipalities on behalf of all Alabama municipalities scheduled to hold an election in 2020, Secretary Merrill has authorized anyone concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19 to cast an absentee ballot in order to avoid the polls on Election Day.
The League of Women Voters Alabama say it's a good step, but more work needs to be done.
"We feel like it's not right for people to choose between their health and their right to vote, and that is basically the bottom line is that everything needs to be done to protect the health of citizens and every Alabamian," says Kathy Jones, speaking on behalf of League of Women Voters Alabama.
For the August 25 municipal elections, the deadline to register to vote is Monday, August 10, the deadline to submit an absentee ballot application is Thursday, August 20, and the deadline to hand-deliver an absentee ballot is the close of business Monday, August 24. If an absentee ballot is returned by mail, it must be postmarked by August 24 and received by noon on August 25.
“We have worked to provide safe, secure, and free elections for the people of Alabama through offering an extended absentee voting period during the recent Primary Runoff Election, and we will continue to see that Alabamians have the opportunity to safely participate in the electoral process during these challenging times,” stated Merrill.
Any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place shall be eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to that individual.
State law allows the Secretary of State to issue absentee voting guidance during declared states of emergency, allowing Secretary Merrill to encourage voters to check the box which reads as follows (in the case none of the boxes are appropriate):
“I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED]”
“We appreciate the Secretary of State’s Office collaborating with ALM to address these extraordinary circumstances as we head into municipal elections,” said Greg Cochran, League of Municipalities Executive Director. “Ensuring all Alabamians have a voice through their vote is imperative to the success of our state.”
If necessary, runoff elections will be held on Tuesday, October 6.