MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - As droves of voters cast absentee ballots in the upcoming election, some lawmakers see the record-breaking participation as a vote to change the way Alabama conducts elections.
“When we go back into session, now we will be armed with the evidence that the State of Alabama actually wants to early vote”, stated Rep. Chris England of Tuscaloosa. “The only thing that’s stopping us is the Alabama Legislature.”
It would take an act of the Legislature to implement early voting in Alabama, which allows voters to cast their ballots at a precinct ahead of election day without going through the absentee process.
It’s something England and his colleagues have championed in the past, but their efforts fell short.
“You actually now have the will of the people pushing any legislation in regards to early voting”, England affirmed.
There are at least two pieces of legislation the public can expect to see in the 2021 legislative session.
“You’ll probably see things like no excuse absentee balloting, which is essentially everybody can cast an absentee vote or just outright early voting”, explained England.
This election is a test-run for no-excuse absentee voting, due to the pandemic. At the time of publication, 240,690 absentee ballots had have been successfully returned. England feels the response would be even greater with outright early voting.
“For over four years, I think we’ve seen our neighbors in other states who have been early voting for years, and it’s worked perfectly there and it’s increased turnout”, he said. “I think it is something that people of Alabama clearly want.”
England says this election cycle proves more opportunities to vote early, including weekends, allows for more greater participation.
“You’ve got all the evidence necessary at this point”, England stated. “All 67 counties, if I’m not mistaken, have set records for absentee voting in this election.”