HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – In the past week, officials tell News 19 absentee voting has ramped up in a major way.
34,000 ballots have been sent out, according to Madison County Circuit Clerk Debra Kizer.
Lines wrapped around all four corners of the Madison County Courthouse on Monday. Hundreds of people were waiting to cast their absentee ballots in-person.
The state of Alabama does not usually allow for early voting. The process of casting an absentee ballot early and in-person is for one specific reason, Kizer said.
“If you have fear of getting the COVID-19 virus, you can opt to vote by absentee. That’s not a normal situation, this is just for this election,” she said.
The state has specific qualifications one must meet in order to cast an absentee ballot, like a disability or they may be out of the country on election day. Madison County explains the requirements here. Those ballots must then be notarized or receive two witness signatures.
For some of the early voters this year, this COVID-19 exemption has proven to be a blessing.
“We had a death in the family and we have to leave town, and we didn’t want to leave town without voting,” said voter Jana Waters.
Others need the flexibility this structure allows in order to avoid upsetting their schedules.
“I always have to work during voting time, so then I have to use PTO or take a loss of wages,” said voter Kimberly Rice.
Jean Preston was going to miss her grandchild’s first birthday. She planned on traveling to meet the family later, so she could stay and vote.
“It’s real important to exercise our rights as citizens,” Preston said.
Some are willing to wait in the two-hour line because they know what it took to get this right.
“Being an African American, it’s very important because we haven’t always had that,” said voter Dora Njingha.
For voters like Deondre Jackson, the year has been unpredictable, so he wants to take advantage of the opportunity now.
“2020 has been a year, and just want to make sure that, if something were to happen, that I would still be able to cast my ballot and have my vote counted,” he said,
Of all the people News 19 talked to, when asked if this process would be something they would like to see stay in the state, all but one agreed they hope to see it become a permanent option during elections in the future.