Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the GOP Runoff election that was originally scheduled for March 31 but was postponed until July 14 due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Registering on June 29 qualifies Alabama residents to cast a vote in the runoff to choose whether they want former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions or former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville to face off against incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones during the General Election on Nov. 3. Jones replaced Sessions and is running unopposed.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is encouraging those who are concerned about contracting or spreading the coronavirus to apply for the right to cast an absentee ballot before the Thursday, July 9 cutoff.
“We have made a concerted effort to see that Alabamians are able to freely participate in the electoral process without having to compromise their health or well-being,” said Merrill.
“Voters who are interested in appearing at the polls in-person on Election Day can rest assured knowing our office has taken extensive measures to keep the polling places safe and secure for voters, poll workers and anyone else involved in the elections process.”
For any first-time voters, the process involves first registering to vote, then applying to “vote absentee.” This application must first be approved by DeKalb County Absentee Election Manager Todd Greeson before his office sends the absentee ballot that will need to be returned by the close of business on Monday, July 13.
Registering to vote for both the runoff and November’s General Election can be done online at www.alabamavotes.gov or by visiting the DeKalb County Board of Registrars office located in the DeKalb County Activities building in Fort Payne. A person is not registered to vote until the Board of Registrars reviews and approves the application. Jo Stiefel is chairperson serving with fellow registrars Jannece Blansit and Donna Pate.
To prevent fraud, valid photo identification is required to register and to vote in-person or by absentee ballot. Blansit said if anyone lacks photo ID – a nondriver, for example -- he or she can apply for a free Alabama photo voter ID card or get assistance at the Board or Registrars office at 111 Grand Avenue SW, Suite 105, in Fort Payne. They are open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., but they do require an appointment by calling (256) 845-8598 or emailing email@example.com.
Blansit said they can assist anyone who does not own a scanner or printer with making photocopies of an approved photo ID to submit when registering to vote or when submitting an absentee voter application or the absentee voter ballot envelope. Original ID cards or documents should not be enclosed with these materials.
Once registered, the Registrar’s office will mail a postcard with information about their designated polling place. Absentee ballot applications can be downloaded online at https://www.sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes/voter/absentee-voting or requested by the Circuit Clerk’s office at 300 Grand Avenue S, Suite 200 in Fort Payne. His mailing address is P.O. Box 681149, Fort Payne, Alabama, 35968. Call Greeson at 256-845-8525 or contact the Secretary of State’s Office at (334) 242-7210 to request an absentee ballot application.
Due to party crossover rules, anyone who voted March 3 in the Democrat primary won’t be allowed to vote in the GOP runoff. Voters who did not participate in either Primary or who voted strictly on constitutional amendments alone are still able to vote.
Once the absentee ballot application is successfully processed, Greeson’s office will mail the absentee ballot materials to the provided address. The voter must return the absentee by the close of business on July 13. The last day to postmark one is July 13, according to Merrill. Servicemembers stationed overseas will have until July 14 to postmark absentees.
Due to the declared states of emergency, any qualified voter who determines it is impossible or unreasonable to vote at their polling place is eligible to check the box on the absentee ballot application that is most applicable to them. Voters can check the box that reads: “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls”.
Absentee voting eligibility is meant for voters who expect to be out of the county on Election Day, those who are ill or have a physical disability that prevents a trip to their physical polling place, people whose jobs will require them to work a required shift of 10 hours or more coinciding with polling hours, appointed election officers or poll waters, caregivers for a family member who they can’t leave at home alone and any voters in jail.
Emergency absentee voting applications can be made after the absentee deadline but no later than 5 p.m. on the day before the election under certain unforeseen medical, funeral or work circumstances.
For more information, visit https://www.alabamavotes.gov, call 1-800-274-8683 or mail the Alabama Secretary of State's Elections Division at P.O. Box 5616, Montgomery, AL 36103-5616.