2020 election

What If Order Easing Absentee Rules for Some Is Knocked Down?

Jefferson County Commissioner Lashunda Scales gave absentee voters some cautionary advice during Thursday’s commission meeting, but county attorney Theo Lawson said her concern is unwarranted.

Scales suggested that absentee voters continue to send in copies of their identification and have the signatures of two witnesses to avoid the possibility their vote would not be counted if a recent federal judge’s ruling is overturned.

Lawson said that caution is unnecessary.

“At this point the current status of the law is that those signatures are not required and the identification is not required because of COVID-related reasons,” he said. “If anybody processes their absentee (ballot) and it goes through the absentee process at this time, that will be valid and counted.”

Alabama’s secretary of state has appealed U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon’s recent ruling 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 numbers. They also must submit a statement outlining their medical conditions.

The ruling also would allow counties to offer curbside voting if they chose to do so.

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.