State officials are working to help voters cast their ballots safely this fall, whether from home or at the polls, during the COVID-19 crisis.
Any registered voter concerned about the risk of exposure to the coronavirus at polling sites can receive an absentee ballot, after Secretary of State John Merrill (R) extended emergency guidance originally issued for the July primary.
Meanwhile, the state plans to open all of its nearly 2,000 polling sites for in-person voting. Safety precautions will include poll workers wearing gloves and using sanitizing wipes and disinfectant spray.
“We have made it clear that people who want to vote in person will be able to vote in person,” Merrill said.
Those who prefer to vote absentee can download an absentee-ballot application at Alabamavotes.gov or contact their county absentee election manager. You must check the box labeled “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID REQUIRED].”
The application, along with a copy of a photo ID (with some exceptions), must be returned in person or by mail by Thursday, Oct. 29.
After completing an absentee ballot, a voter must have two witnesses or a notary sign an affidavit. And the ballot must be postmarked by Monday, Nov. 2.
AARP Alabama urges people choosing to vote absentee to request and cast their ballots as soon as possible.
Voting rights advocates have challenged the photo ID and witness/notary signature rules in court, arguing that they put vulnerable individuals at risk amid the pandemic. At the time of publication, the case was unresolved. Also earlier this year, a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowed the state to block counties from setting up curbside voting.
Whether they are voting in person or by absentee ballot, Alabamians will decide the outcomes of several congressional races, including the high-profile contest between incumbent U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D) and Republican challenger and retired Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.
AARP Alabama is focused on key issues, including protecting nursing home staff and residents during the pandemic and expanding high-speed internet to broaden access to telehealth services and more. Get updates at aarp.org/ALvotes.
Sheila Burke is a writer living in Nashville, Tennessee.
This story is provided by AARP Alabama. Visit the AARP Alabama page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.
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