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Who Are Alabama’s Absentee Voters?

By Hannah Warren, Alexis Lundy & John H. Glenn

State officials have estimated that nearly 2.5 million to 2.8 million voters will cast their ballot in person this Tuesday, a record number for voter turnout in Alabama history.

However, in the months prior to the election, other record numbers of absentee voters have already casted their vote.

The Secretary of State’s Office declared last week that a little over 206,000 Alabamian residences had cast absentee ballots for the upcoming presidential election, shattering all-time state turnout records of absentee voting.

If Merrill’s numbers are on target, absentee ballots would be 9 or 10% of total votes cast this election cycle.

In June, Secretary of State John Merrill allowed voters concerned about potential exposure to COVID-19 at polling places to apply for an absentee ballot under the “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls” requirement on the absentee application.

This no doubt spurred votes among voters with preexisting conditions—many among them students.

Destiny Rogers, majoring in biology, cast her vote by absentee ballot in the 2020 election.

“As someone with an underlying condition, I have to be cautious of where I go and when I go. I can’t catch COVID and neither can anyone I live with,” Rogers said. “Absentee voting seemed like the best way to stay safe and still vote.”

Rogers said that the voting process took close to an hour and a half, as she voted with her sister and their grandmother.

Voters elsewhere in the South, and here in Alabama, have experienced the abnormally long lines and overwhelmed polling locations that force many to wait hours upon hours in line to cast their vote.

Registered voter, Atallah Jamison, voted absentee in this year’s election to avoid the long lines at the polls on election day.

“This is my first time voting in a big election. I just knew the lines were going to be long and I saw on Facebook it was taking some Birmingham voters over 2 hours to vote,” Jamison said. “I know myself, and I knew that I should just go early one morning and not fool around with the lines on the official election day.”

Jamison said voting absentee was simple for her, and because of that, she would vote absentee again in the future.

Working people are often faced with the challenge of figuring out how to cast their vote in elections, especially if they are scheduled to work on Election Day. Don Lundy, a communication studies major, chose to vote absentee due to having work on election day.

“I went early one morning last week, and it was a smooth process. Most of my time there was spent waiting in line and the actual voting only took maybe 10 minutes,” Lundy said. “The entire thing took about an hour and that’s because you have to fill out a form explaining why you chose to absentee vote”

Lundy said his family typically goes to the polls in person to vote together, but this time he went alone.

“I have only voted twice. I’ve done in person voting and in person absentee voting, and I prefer in person voting on the day of the election,” Lundy said.

Absentee ballots are still being used by young people abroad. Recent graduate Tinnie Louie voted absentee from the United Kingdom. She is a medical student at the University of York in North Yorkshire, England.

A registered Alabama voter, Louie completed and sent her application back to Madison County while residing in Illinois just prior to moving. She wasn’t sure where she would reside in York and had her boyfriend mail her the ballot package once her residency had been established in the UK.

“I’m voting because I know that I’m going to come back to this country, and within the next presidential run,” Louie said.

Louie said she went through with voting because of her expected return to the United States and added that she may not have voted had she not been returning for four years. Like some others, Louie said she has worried about the potential for mail in votes to be manipulated.

“I wish I could go vote in person, I mean, even without COVID,” Louie said. “That would be the most preferential way, but my situation is that I’m abroad.”

“If I wasn’t coming back in the next four years, I’d be like okay, I might not be as affected by U.S politics.” Louie said. “But since I will most likely be back in about a year, I will definitely feel whatever is going to happen election day. That was my mindset when I voted.”

Edited by Ryan Michaels

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Made By Students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham