MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As a record-setting number of Alabama voters chose to cast their ballots ahead of the general election, Secretary of State John Merrill is also expecting to set a new state voting record on election day.
“We anticipate between 68 and 75% of our people will actually vote and that will be between 2.5 and 2.8 million voters casting their ballot for the candidate of their choice,” Merrill stated.
Here’s a look at how those estimates stack up against previous turnouts during a general election:
Based on Merrill’s calculation, that could translate to a 17 to 31% increase overall. He believes a number of factors are drawing people to the polls.
“I think enthusiasm and energy, support for the candidates of the voters choices and the fact that they’ve had the opportunity to (vote) in a streamlined situation,” he explained.
Alabama’s absentee voting response may set the tone for election day. On Oct. 27, 221,635 absentee ballots had been cast, which is more than double the amount in 2016. At the time of publication, 286,488 absentee ballots requests had been processed. While the numbers are impressive, it only accounts for about 10% of the state’s overall vote recorded in 2016.
While Alabama doesn’t offer early voting, which allows voters to cast their ballot outright without going through the absentee process, this year any Alabama voter could cast an absentee ballot. Merrill believes a combination of factors are bolstering the state’s absentee numbers.
“I think that some people want to make sure that they can go and vote early, so they don’t have to worry about it on election day because they already know who they’re going to vote for,” explained Merrill. “They want to have their voice heard now. I think other people are concerned about gathering in large crowds and they want to make sure that they kept themselves safe and secure.”
All voters can verify their voting experience on https://myinfo.alabamavotes.gov/voterview to check voter registration status and confirm polling locations.
“Those who vote absentee, they can actually track the status of their absentee ballot so they know when it’s been received and they can rest assured that their vote is going to count for the candidate of their choice,” Merrill said.
The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 29. Absentee ballots must be hand-delivered to the absentee election manager by the close of business on Nov. 2.