Up to 2,600 absentee ballots could be thrown out because of dueling court rulings over witness signatures on ballots.
Jefferson County Probate Judge James Naftel on Wednesday said officials are working to see that every vote counts.
Normally, absentee ballots must be notarized or signed by two witnesses, but a federal judge ruled in September that some older voters with underlying medical conditions did not have to meet the signature requirements because of the coronavirus pandemic. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the ruling two weeks later.
County officials on Monday said ballots cast under the waiver that were postmarked by Oct. 13 will be counted. At issue are those with the waived witness requirements postmarked after that date.
Naftel told WBHM the county is working with the election software provider to more precisely identify the number of ballots in question. In the meantime, he said election workers will contact voters with such ballots to inform them of the opportunity to fix or “cure” the ballots.
A voter would have to go to the absentee election manager’s office at the Jefferson County Courthouse to sign an affidavit. State law prevents absentee ballots from leaving the office once they are received, meaning ballots cannot be delivered to a voter’s home to be fixed.
Voters who believe they may have been caught by this discrepancy can also call the office at 205-325-5313.
Thursday is the final day to request an absentee ballot, although, because the election is less than a week away, the United States Postal Service recommends hand delivering absentee ballots instead of mailing them. According to the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office, more than 301,000 absentee ballots have been requested with about 241,000 returned. That shatters the previous record from 2012 of 89,000 absentee ballots cast.