MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – The Madison County Absentee Ballot Office opened to voters on Wednesday, Sept. 9. That announcement followed News 19 contacting local elections over concerns that the process would be improperly delayed.
The Alabama Democratic Party Monday raised questions about the process in Madison County.
On Labor Day, Alabama Democrats pointed out that while Birmingham, Mobile, and Montgomery would be ready to accept in-person absentee ballots Wednesday, but Madison County was not.
News 19 called the absentee ballot office shortly before noon Tuesday and heard a recording from the Madison County Absentee Elections manager, Circuit Clerk Debra Kizer, saying the office would begin receiving absentee ballots, in ‘mid-September’ and staff would be available September 21. The website said the absentee ballot office would open September 19.
The problem is Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill said that absentee voting is set to begin on September 9.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger responded to News 19 Tuesday afternoon, saying the absentee ballot office would now open Sept. 9 at 8:30 a.m. and he expected that the office’s voicemail and website would be updated today.
Alabama Democratic Chair Chris England addressed the updated plan Tuesday afternoon.
“As I stated yesterday, the law is clear,” he said. “Voters in all 67 counties should be able to vote absentee in-person tomorrow and I’m pleased that Madison County is complying. Too much is at stake in this election for even one vote to be suppressed and the Alabama Democratic Party will continue to fight every instance of veiled or blatant voter suppression. Voting should be safe and easy for everyone.”
The deadline to request an Absentee Ballot or vote in-person at the Absentee Ballot Office is October 29.
England said Monday the law needed to be followed.
“It’s been 49 days since Merrill issued an order that afforded all Alabamians the option to vote
absentee due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “There has been plenty of time for all absentee
election managers to prepare for the citizens of Alabama to exercise one of their most sacred
rights – the right to vote.”
A clerk’s office representative told News 19 today that Kizer was attending to a personal matter Tuesday, but the plan was to begin accepting and providing absentee ballots Wednesday morning.
In his press release, Judge Barger said:
The Absentee Ballot Office, located on the first floor of the Madison County Courthouse, will be open each business day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Voters are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the Absentee Voting Process due to COVID-19 and the anticipated historic turnout at polling locations on Election Day.
At the Absentee Ballot Office, a voter may:
- Apply in-person for, receive, and return his or her own Absentee Ballot
- Hand-deliver his or her own completed and sealed Absentee Ballot
- Receive assistance with any part of the Absentee process
When visiting the Madison County Absentee Elections Office:
- Please bring your valid government issued photo ID
- Please bring your own pen to avoid unnecessary contact – a pen will be provided if needed
- A face covering over the nose and mouth is strongly encouraged – a mask will be provided if needed
- Please maintain a distance of six feet
If you are voting Absentee due to the concern of contracting or spreading COVID-19, the appropriate box to check on your Absentee Ballot Application is: “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. [ID Required]” – this is the second box/selection on the Absentee Ballot Application.
The ability to vote an Absentee Ballot due to concern about COVID-19 is legal pursuant to the emergency rule issued through the authority of the Alabama Secretary of State.
To avoid contact altogether voters may request and receive their Absentee Ballot via mail. The application can be found at https://www.madisoncountyvotes.com/voter-resources/absentee-voting-3/. The instructions are included on the application. When your application is received and processed, an Absentee Ballot will be returned to you. Please remember that only one Absentee Ballot is allowed per return envelope.
For questions, special assistance, or additional information regarding Absentee Voting please call 256-532-3684.
Updated at 5:36 p.m. to include details on return of absentee ballot.