Absentee Ballots and
the US Postal Service
By Sandra F. Beckard, Speakin’ Out News staff writer
Huntsville, AL – Having always voted in-person in every election, (National, State and Local), this year of COVID-19 gave me pause and I, like so many of you, had to re-think how I would navigate a process that was so unfamiliar to me and still continue my civic duties. I decided to test the absentee ballot process with the Municipal Elections that were held on August 25, 2020. Due to the actions of Government Officials interfering with the Postal Service, I wanted to see how long it would take to get my ballot.
I called the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office in the Municipal Building on August 3rd to request an application. It was mailed on August 4th. I received it on August 7th. I completed the application immediately and mailed it back on August 8th. I received my ballot on August 14th. This was a two week process. After following all the instructions required, I hand delivered my sealed ballot envelope to the Municipal Building on August 17th.
I’m sharing this experience to advise anyone who might be considering voting absentee in the General Election on November 3rd, do not call to request your application, this will require using the Postal Service and the turn-around time is too long. Print off your application from the Madison County Circuit Clerk’s Office website. Complete it immediately and attach a copy of your ID and hand deliver it to that office. If you have no way of getting a printed application, you can go to that office and request an application to be completed on the spot. Just remember to bring a copy of your ID. They will not make a copy for you. Your application will be stamped ‘WALK-IN”. Remember when completing your application you must check the box that says “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.” Don’t forget to sign at the bottom.
When I hand delivered my ballot to the Municipal Building on August 17th I did everything I just suggested for the General Election at the Madison County Court House the same day. It only took about 10 minutes to complete the application because I did not have one. Think of the time saved if you already have this ready to hand in. I called to check on the status of my application a few days ago and was informed that the Ballots for the General Election will start being mailed out this week and I should receive mine by the end of the month. I’m going to assume that applications are entered by the dates received. When I turned in mine, that office had already received more than 2500 requests. That was Mid-August. See the urgency of not using the Postal Service?
When I do receive my ballot, I will choose my Candidates, vote on any Amendments, and follow ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR ABSENTEE VOTERS that are printed on that yellow sheet of paper and immediately hand-deliver it to the Absentee Election Manager’s office. As with in-person voting, the voter, must return their ballot no one else can do it for you. Your ID will be required.
Also if hand-delivered, the ballot must be in the office of the Absentee Election Manager by the close of business (but no later than 5 p.m.) on the day prior to the election. I will be taking advantage of early voting. Do not wait until the last minute to hand-deliver your ballot.
If you decide to vote in-person or absentee, just do it! There are no excuses!