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Secretary of State administers absentee voting law updates

Absentee voting procedures are getting an update in Alabama, with new changes coming down the pike from the Secretary of State’s office. 

Alabama Act 2019-507 became effective Aug. 1, establishing new requirements for voters casting absentee ballots.
A copy of an absentee voter’s valid photo identification must now be submitted along with the absentee ballot application. Secretary of State John Merrill said this change will ensure only eligible voters receive ballots for the election in which they are qualified to vote, helping to eliminate a common type of voter fraud. Prior to Aug. 1, voters requesting an absentee ballot were not required to present a valid form of photo identification with their application, making it more difficult for absentee election managers to verify the voters’ identity.
“Now more than ever, we are making it easier to vote and harder to cheat. By streamlining the process to verify absentee voters, we are making the submission of an absentee application easier and more efficient for all who are eligible,” said Merrill.
Absentee election managers are no longer required to publish the list of absentee voters, their addresses and their polling places in the county courthouse. This law, Merrill explained, protects voter privacy and keeps information from being compromised by those looking to influence elections.
This law also introduces two new instances for voters to submit an absentee ballot: if a voter is the caregiver to an immediate family member or if a voter has been incarcerated but has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony.
Further, Act 2019-507 provides that a voter may apply for an emergency absentee ballot while serving as the caregiver to someone who requires medical treatment or if an immediate family member has passed away within five days of an election.
In order to ensure absentee ballots are returned in a timely manner in a way that is convenient, voters now have the option to return ballots by commercial carrier in addition to U.S. mail.
All updates are reflected in the information provided by the Secretary of State’s website.
“In the Office of the Secretary of State, we are working to make the electoral process more efficient and accommodating for the people of Alabama,” Merrill said.