2020 election

Absentee Count Can Start Election Morning, Judge Allows Curbside Voting and Waives ID Requirements for Absentees

Voter casts a ballot at the Jefferson County courthouse during the primary. (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

The governor and a federal court made changes Wednesday that could affect the election process on Nov. 3.

The governor issued an order allowing election officials to begin counting absentee ballots at the same time the polls open, at 7 a.m. on election day. Secretary of State John Merrill welcomed the move to ease the counting of an unusually large number of absentee ballots.

The state was not as welcoming of another development on the voting front. A federal court judge also Wednesday issued a ruling that lightens absentee voting requirements for older and infirm Alabamians and allows counties to offer curbside voting if they chose to do so.

Attorney general Steve Marshall said he would appeal that ruling.

The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon states that voters who are 65 years old or older or who have underlying health conditions can vote by absentee without providing the copy of a photo ID or having a witness’ and notary’s signatures. Voting advocates have complained that those two requirements can be difficult for people who are avoiding leaving their homes to meet.

Voters, instead, can provide other identifying information, such as a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security cards. They also must submit a statement outlining their medical conditions.

Kallon issued a similar ruling in a lawsuit filed before the July runoffs, but the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay on the ruling, halting its provisions without ruling on them.

Wednesday’s ruling would apply only to the Nov. 3 election, not any subsequent elections. It’s driven by concerns about voting safely during a pandemic.

Do You Know Where Your Absentee Ballot Is?

You can see where your absentee ballot is in the process, as well as finding your polling place and registration status.

For more absentee ballot information, read BirminghamWatch’s earlier story:  Absentee Ballot Season Gets Underway