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Absentee ballot increase burdens Jackson County clerk

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – There are more Jackson County residents voting absentee than in any Presidential election before.

“I had a guy call me the other day. I pulled him up and I looked at his information and I said, ‘Sir when was the last time you voted?’ He said, ‘Well, it’s been about 20 years ago.’ But he said, ‘This is going to be an important election. I figured I ought to vote.’ We’ve got a lot of people like that,” said 38th judicial circuit clerk Bart Buchanan.

While absentee voting is beneficial to voters, it is causing a headache for the smaller counties in Northeast Alabama.

“We knew with it being a presidential election, those are always big anyway. So we were Anticipating that, but then Mr. COVID-19 hit and that just changed everything. It just turned everything upside down. So people are afraid to get out and go anywhere,” said Buchanan.

Buchanan has already received 500 applications and expects to get another 500 before Election Day.

That increase is putting a strain on the smaller counties like Jackson County.

“We are seeing a flux, a triple and quadruple amount of applicants than we usually have,” explained Buchanan.

Buchanan was able to hire two part time workers through the CARES Act to help with absentee voting.

He told News 19 that the most time-consuming part of it is preparation.

“But luckily we can usually get that done ahead of time so when our ballots get here, we can just process the application, get it in here, and mail it out to them,” said Buchanan.

The deadline for an absentee ballot application is five days before election day. Absentee ballots can be hand-delivered to the clerks up until noon on the day of the election.

Buchanan said the sooner voters get their ballots in, the better.

Click here for an application.

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