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Absentee voting requires application process

Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain is dealing with a flood of his own this week as he wades through the requests for absentee ballots.

Ballots were received in the clerk’s office on Sept. 9 and the requests began rolling in immediately.

“On the first day that I received the ballots, I sent out 157 that same day,” Fountain said. “That has never, ever happened.”

Fountain took the opportunity to remind voters that the absentee isn’t meant to be a “mail in” voting solution.

“A voter has to complete an application to receive an absentee ballot,” Fountain said. “You have to have a legitimate reason for asking to vote by absentee ballot. There are several reasons that would qualify a voter to cast a ballot by absentee. Health issues is one of those reasons. Although there is no COVID-19 box to check on the application, a voter can choose a physical illness as the reason for requesting the ballot if they have the virus or other related health concerns.”

Fountain said that before a person can receive an absentee ballot, information has to be verified for every voter.

“We have to double check to make sure the information provided on the application matches the information we have on the voter registration list,” Fountain said. “If you have moved, or if anything has changed with a voter in the past year, they should make sure their information is updated with the voter registrars office before requesting an absentee ballot. If the information does not match, we have to send them a letter about the inaccurate information and it must be corrected before an absentee ballot can be issued. That takes some time and getting that updated or corrected before requesting an application can speed up the process.”

The process of requesting and applying for an absentee ballot must be received by Fountain’s office no later than Oct. 29 in order to be eligible for counting in the November election.

Other guidelines to consider when requesting  an absentee ballot:

• The application must be mailed. No application will be accepted through hand delivery unless the person is a designee for a medical emergency;

• Only one application per envelope when mailing to the clerk’s office;

• The application must provide the physical address of the voter;

• The application may be handed to the applicant or forwarded through the mail

• A copy of a valid identification is required to accompany the application.

Other guidelines may also be a part of the application process. To download an application voters may visit the Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.al.us.

Applications and detailed information is available at the Circuit Clerk’s office at the Escambia County Courthouse in Room 215, and can be returned by mail to P.O. Box 865, Brewton, AL  36427.