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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The general election is nearly two months away, but voters in Alabama started casting ballots this week.

The state doesn’t have early voting, but under a special pandemic-driven exception voters worried about COVID-19 can vote absentee, and they can do it in person.

The absentee ballot process in Alabama can be cumbersome. An application has to be filed with a copy of your ID, then voters need two witnesses or a notary to sign the ballot form.

But this election year is a bit different, the rules have changed.

“I am proud to announce Alabama was the first state in the country to cast votes in this general election,” said Chis England, Chair of the Alabama Democratic Party.

As of Wednesday, the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office reports nearly 25,000 absentee ballot applications have been submitted.

England is happy with what they’ve seen so far.

“You can go across the state and from Mobile to Montgomery to Birmingham and to Huntsville, you can see the energy,” he said. “It’s palpable, it’s tangible and people are ready to vote, he said.

U.S. Sen Doug Jones said on a conference call Friday, voters have options.

“This is one of those rare occasions that we have in Alabama to vote at your convenience and not just the convenience of the state,” Jones said. “And to do it safely, securely, without worry about whether or not the Postal Service will deliver the mail.”

Voters can vote absentee in person by going to the local courthouse, with ID.

“In all 67 counties, find your circuit clerk or your absentee ballot election manager, go into the courthouse with your identification, fill out your form, fill out your absentee ballot application on site, get a ballot, fill it out, and cast your vote,” England said. “All you’ve got to do is take your ID down there, they will notarize it there for you and your ballot is cast.”

Officials advise confirming your voter registration before submitting your ballot or going to cast it.

You can check if your registration up to date by visiting the Alabama Secretary of State’s website.