By Benjamin Bullard
The Cullman Times
Voters planing to cast an absentee ballot in next month’s special primary election for the District 11 seat in the state House of Representatives can begin requesting their ballots through the Cullman County circuit clerk’s office now through the Feb. 7 deadline.
Applications for absentee voting ahead of the Feb. 12 primary election are available at the circuit clerk’s office, as well as the Alabama Secretary of State’s web page at www.alabamavotes.gov.
Only those interested in casting a ballot for a Republican candidate need worry about the primary deadline, since only one local Democrat qualified to seek the District 11 seat. The District 11 seat has remained vacant since longtime representative Jeremy Oden left to accept an appointment to the Alabama Public Service Commission.
Four Republicans — Danny Alldredge, Mike Graves, Lydia Haynes and Randall Shedd — will face off in the hope of earning the party’s nomination to run against Democrat Kelly Evans in a special early-year general election.
Separate applications for absentee ballots are required for elections held more than 30 days apart. That means voters needing to vote absentee in both the Feb. 12 primary, as well as any subsequent party runoff or in the general election, must request a new absentee ballot for each election.
For the Feb. 12 primary, Thursday, Feb. 7 marks the deadline to request a ballot. For primary elections, applicants must request either a Republican or Democrat absentee ballot. Completed absentee applications must be returned in person by the voter named on the application, or may be mailed. Multiple applications cannot be mailed in the same envelope.
Mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than Monday, Feb. 11, the last business day before the primary. Hand-delivered ballots may be returned through noon on election day.
Who’s eligible to vote absentee?
Any qualified elector may vote an absentee ballot by mail or in person at the absentee election manager’s office, if he or she makes application in writing not less than five days prior to the election and meets one of the following requirements:
*The voter will be out of the county or state on election day.
*The voter has any physical illness or infirmity which prevents attendance at the polls.
*The voter works a shift which has at least 10 hours that coincide with the hours the polls are open.
*The voter is enrolled as a student at an educational institution located outside the county of his or her personal residence, preventing attendance at the polls.
*The voter is a member of, or spouse or dependent of a member of, the U.S. armed forces, or is similarly qualified to vote absentee pursuant to the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff.
* The voter has been appointed as an election officer or named as a poll watcher at a polling place other than his or her regular polling place.
* Any registered elector who requires emergency treatment of a licensed physician within five days of an election may apply for an emergency absentee ballot, and may vote by returning the absentee ballot, no later than noon on the day the election is held. The attendant physician shall describe and certify the circumstances as constituting an emergency on a special form provided by the Secretary of State’s office to local absentee election managers. The special form shall be attached to the application.
* An applicant for an absentee ballot who is a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the Alabama National Guard, the United States Naval Reserves, the United States Air Force Reserves, and the United States Army Reserve on active duty or active duty for training, or an applicant who is the spouse of any member of the armed forces or any other applicant qualified to vote absentee pursuant to the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff, may make application for an absentee ballot by filling out the federal postcard application form, authorized and provided for under the provisions of the Federal Voting Assistance Act.
Visit the Alabama Secretary of State’s web page at www.alabamavotes.gov, or contact the Cullman County circuit clerk’s office at 256-775-4654 for more information on voting absentee, or if you have a question about your eligibility to cast an absentee ballot.
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.