Probate Judge says have a plan and expect a wait for any type of in person voting

Long lines of people waiting to vote

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Long lines will be a big theme of any in-person voting this year, whether you plan to head to the Madison County Courthouse to vote absentee or wait till Election Day.

Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said in a usual presidential election year they get around 10,000 absentee ballots. As of Monday night, Barger said 35,000 absentee ballots had been returned in Madison County and he expects that number to hit 40,000 by Election Day.

Thousands of people have already voted absentee in-person at the Madison County Courthouse in the past few weeks, Barger said long lines wrapping around the courthouse started in final few weeks of October and will continue through Thursday the 28, that’s the last day to vote absentee in-person in Alabama.

People waiting in line on Tuesday saw wait times of longer than two hours, voter Stephen Grace even had a timer going to keep track of how long he had been waiting.

“It’s not the wait, it’s the purpose of the wait, so the two hours is insignificant," Grace said.

Other voters were concerned about the potential length of the lines on Nov. 3.

“I mean I vote every year, but I came out today because I didn’t want to wait all day long on election night.,” said Marcia Crowe.

People can still mail their absentee ballot in, the last day to request one is Thursday, October 28 but some were worried about their ballots getting in on time.

“I don’t want to run the risk of requesting something now, having to get it mailed up to my house and then hope that I can get it back into the mail by Saturday to get it back up here," said Sheldon Nations.

Others just needed to make sure their vote counts.

”Just being concerned that my vote wouldn’t count so I was like, ‘No we’re going to show up to the court building and make sure our vote counts.'," said Candy West.

If you want to vote absentee you still have a couple of options. You have until Thursday, Oct. 28 to vote in person at your county courthouse. You can also still request your absentee ballot in the mail, fill it out and then mail it back. If you plan to mail it back, it needs to get to it’s destination by Noon on Election Day, Nov. 3 to be counted. If you’re a Madison County voter you can return your filled out ballot to workers collecting them at the Madison County Courthouse.

For people planning to go vote on Election Day, Barger said you should still expect a to wait. A historic, record breaking turnout means more people, plus social distancing and sanitizing will all make things go a little slower.

Tips for voting in person on Election Day

Barger said you need to have a plan A and a plan B as to how you’re going to vote.

“You might want to attempt to vote on your way in, you might not want to wait in that line,” Barger said. “Lines are only going to increase likely throughout the day at various locations. So, I would encourage folks if you have a non traditional work schedule or you’re retired, try voting at non peak times. Think about voting late in the morning or early in the afternoon.”

Judge Barger also wants to ask everyone to wear a mask when they go vote, they’re not required, but he wants you to think of the election workers, many of whom are in the high risk category for COVID-19, when you make your mask decision.

The two others things Barger wants people to bring to the polls? Your own pen and your patience.

Barger said his staff, as well as Madison County Circuit Clerk Debra Kizer and her staff are working overtime to insure this election is perfect.

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