Alabama voters on track to triple absentee ballots in general election

Alabamians break records with absentee voting

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Absentee voting continues to bring people out in droves across Alabama ahead of the 2020 general election.

In Montgomery County, hundreds of residents braved the sun and rain to cast an absentee ballot in person.

“So far we’ve done close to 600 in-person voters who started coming in this morning,” Montgomery Circuit Clerk Gina Ishman said of Monday’s crowd. “We open up at eight and when I drove in about seven we already had a line about 20 or 30 people and it’s been nonstop all day.”

To date, more than 21,000 people have voted absentee in Montgomery. That’s nearly five times the county’s previous absentee record.

“I’m anticipating for these last four days of absentee in-person voting, we will easily do 1,000 voters a day and this is just in-person. Now we still have voters who are choosing to mail in their ballots and that’s 400-plus a day. So we’re easily kicking out close to 1,500 ballots daily,” she explained.

Alabama is one of only a handful of states without an early voting option. Early voting allows residents to cast a ballot outright ahead of election day without going through absentee ballot application process. It would take an act of the Legislature to offer early voting in Alabama.

Some suggest the daily crowds in Montgomery and other counties across the state could give lawmakers insight on whether they should make early voting an option.

“I think this is maybe a good sign that Alabama would enjoy our early voting process,” stated Ishman.

Due to the state of emergency issued by the governor in March, qualified voters are allowed to vote absentee without specific reason that keeps them away from the polls. It’s unclear whether this factor fueled the absentee ballot process.

“We’ve done extended hours on Saturdays as well as on a holiday,” Ishman said of the extra opportunities Montgomery voters have had to cast their ballots. “This past Saturday we were jam-packed with 600 voters in four hours or so. Most of those voters couldn’t come during the workday so it gave them more accessibility to participate in the absentee process.”

As of Monday, more than double the number of Alabama voters had already returned their absentee ballots, compared to the total number of absentee ballots cast during the 2016 election. Most believe this number is set to triple by this time next week.

“I know there are voters in Montgomery County who are really depending on the absentee process,” said Ishman. “As I like to say, they may be absent - but their vote will be counted.”

Deadlines for absentee voting:

  • Deadline to apply for an absentee ballot: Thursday, Oct. 29
  • Deadline to return an absentee ballot by mail: Must be postmarked by Monday, Nov.2
  • Deadline to hand-deliver an absentee ballot to the election manager: Close of business on Monday, Nov. 2

Those who voted absentee and mailed in their ballots can track their ballot here.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with the correct deadline for returning an absentee ballot. The deadline is Monday, Nov. 2.

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