By: Kenyan Carter | News Editor
The 2020 general election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 3. At the top of the ballot, Former Vice President Joe Biden will challenge incumbent President Donald Trump for the presidency. Also happening in Alabama is a race for a state Senate seat with former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville challenging incumbent senator Doug Jones.
Due to the impact of coronavirus, mail-in ballots have become more of a preference for voters this year, largely driven by. Exposure to the virus and waiting time concerns due to social distancing protocols have largely driven this. The official jargon for mail-in ballots is called absentee ballots.
The first thing students need to do is confirm their voter registration status on the Alabama Secretary of State website. Students not native to Mobile and wanting to vote in- person should make sure to change their polling location on the application.
Once registered to vote, you can start your application for an absentee ballot. All you have to do is print the form and complete it. Note that along with completing the application, you must also send a copy of a valid photo I.D., a printout of your license or student I.D. would work.
This year is a general election so make sure to bubble that option when asked.
At the end of the application, it will ask why you’re requesting a ballot. Due to the state of emergency initiated by COVID, all voters can choose the “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls,” option and receive a ballot.
There is also an option specific to college students that states “I am enrolled as a student at an educational institution located outside the county of my personal residence, attendance at which prevents my attendance at the polls.” This can also be a valid option if you did not update your polling location to Mobile.
Make sure all required forms are filled, signed and dated.
When you have completed the application, you must then mail or hand deliver it to the Mobile County Absentee Election Manager Alleen Barnett. Barnett’s physical address is 151 Government St, Mobile, Alabama 36602. The mailing address is at PO Box 7, Mobile, Alabama 36601-0007.
If your application is approved, then you will be mailed your absentee ballot.
The procedure for completing the absentee ballot according to sos.alabama.gov is as follows. The absentee ballot comes with three envelopes – one plain (the secrecy envelope), one with an affidavit, or oath, printed on the outside and one plain envelope, preaddressed (the outer envelope). Once the voter casts the ballot, the procedure is as follows:
—Seal the ballot in the plain envelope
—Place the plain envelope inside the accompanying affidavit envelope
—Seal the affidavit envelope and complete the affidavit that is on the outside of the envelope
—Sign the affidavit and have the signature witnessed by either a notary public or two witnesses 18 years of age or older
—Place the affidavit envelope and a COPY of voter identification inside the outer envelope
The process is a little tedious, but that isn’t something unfamiliar to university students. Absentee ballots must be mailed in by November 2nd to be counted.