Absentee ballot returns increase statewide this midterm

LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - Absentee ballot applications and returns are up around the state of Alabama, election officials said Wednesday.

Secretary of State John Merrill told WHNT News 19 by phone that there has been an increase in absentee voting, basing his comment on conversations he has had with absentee election managers. He estimated it was up by 10-15% in the state, compared to previous elections.

Thursday is the absentee ballot application deadline. Absentee ballots must be received at absentee election manager offices by Monday at noon, Merrill said.

Brad Curnutt, Limestone County Circuit Clerk, has noticed an increase in absentee ballot returns too.

"Especially in the past few days, we have been extremely busy," he said. "We have seen a tremendous amount of applications coming in."

Curnutt said that during the last midterm, the county saw 549 absentee votes. But so far this midterm, they have had 1,200 applications to request an absentee ballot, and 1,000 have already been returned to the office.

"People are wanting to get out and cast their vote. And that's what it's all about," Curnutt said.

He thinks he knows what the increase is all about.

"Everybody is very concerned about the election that is coming up, so they are trying to get out," he noted. "And they've told me that. Some people are more vocal about their votes and they are just saying, 'I want to get my vote in. I want to get my vote in.'"

Curnutt wants to remind voters that the clerk's offices receive absentee ballots 45 days before an election, so there is plenty of time to go in and apply for the ballots and either fill them out, or mail them back, before the deadline.

"With absentee, we get them 45 days from an election so you have plenty of time," he said. "It seems like in every election, you have people who wait until the very end and it causes them a lot of trouble. I wish people would start earlier. That's one thing I want to work on for the next election, is trying to get that message out there."

His goal moving ahead in upcoming elections is to educate people, "Just don't wait."

Curnutt is proud of all of those who cast their ballots, regardless of how they do that.

"Get out and cast your vote. Every vote counts," he explained.

You can find more information about absentee voting in Alabama by clicking this link.