New absentee voting law takes effect in Alabama — ‘Easier to vote and harder to cheat’
Secretary of State John Merrill on Tuesday outlined the impact of Alabama Act 2019-507, which became effective on August 1 and establishes new requirements for voters casting absentee ballots in the state.
Prior to this law taking effect, voters requesting an absentee ballot were not required to present a valid form of photo identification with their application, making it difficult for absentee election managers to verify a voter’s identity.
Now, a copy of a voter’s valid photo identification must be submitted along with every absentee ballot application. Merrill’s office advised that this will ensure that only eligible voters receive ballots for the election in which they are qualified to vote.
“Now more than ever, we are making it easier to vote and harder to cheat! By streamlining the process to verify absentee voters, we are making the submission of an absentee application easier and more efficient for all who are eligible,” Merrill emphasized in a statement.
Additionally, absentee election managers are no longer required to publish the list of absentee voters, their addresses and their polling places in each county courthouse. This protects voter privacy and keeps information from being compromised by those looking to influence elections, according to Merrill’s office.
The new law also introduces two more instances in which voters can receive an absentee ballot: If a voter is the caregiver to an immediate family member or if a voter has been incarcerated but has not been convicted of a disqualifying felony.
Act 2019-507 further provides that a voter may apply for an emergency absentee ballot while serving as the caregiver to someone who requires medical treatment or if an immediate family member has passed away within five days of an election.
Finally, in order to ensure absentee ballots are returned in a timely manner in a way that is convenient, voters now have the option to return ballots by commercial carrier in addition to U.S. mail.
All of these updates are reflected in the information provided on the secretary of state website.
“In the Office of the Secretary of State, we are working to make the electoral process more efficient and accommodating for the people of Alabama!” Merrill added.
Sean Ross is the editor for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn