2020 Voter Guide

Voting by Absentee Ballot

Lines of voters stretched into Linn Park on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 as they waited to cast their absentee ballots in person. (Photo by Vickey Williams)

Alabama voters have until Oct. 29 to apply to vote by absentee ballot.

Usually, voters must fit into narrowly defined categories to be able to vote by absentee.

But for this year only, Secretary of State John Merrill has approved absentee voting for any voter who has concerns about exposure to the coronavirus at the polls. On the application, you can check the box next to the line that reads: “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.”

Other reasons that allow absentee voting are: being out of the county for the day or living outside the county; being ill or disabled and unable to go to the polls; being the caregiver of a relative who is ill or disabled; expecting to work a required shift of 10 hours of more that coincides with polling hours; being a poll worker; and being incarcerated.

How can I apply to vote by absentee ballot?

Absentee ballot applications may be obtained from and returned to absentee election managers in the voter’s county, usually the circuit court clerk’s office. In Jefferson County’s Birmingham Division, that is at the downtown courthouse, mailing address 716 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N, Room 500, Birmingham, Alabama, 35203-0102, and the contact number is 205-325-5313. In the Bessemer Division, that is in the Bessemer courthouse, mailing address 1851 2nd Ave. N., Bessemer, Alabama 35020, and the contact number is 205-497-8526.

They also may be obtained online, here.

The absentee ballot itself will then be mailed to approved voters, or it will be handed to them if they apply in person.

Track the status of your absentee ballot, check your registration status and find your polling place.

 How do I cast my absentee ballot?

The last day to vote by absentee ballot is Nov. 2, the day before the election. Absentee ballots must be either hand delivered to the circuit clerk’s office by the end of that business day or postmarked on or before that day.

In-person absentee voting has become popular this year, but lines in Jefferson County and some other places have meant long waits. But you can apply to vote by absentee ballot and cast your ballot the same day by going to the clerk’s office.

Voters who are mailing in their absentee ballots are being encouraged not to wait until the deadline because more people are expected to vote by absentee this year, potentially causing delays in delivery by the U.S. Postal Service.