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House bill allowing no excuse absentee voting carried over

Updated: Mar. 3, 2021 at 11:47 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WAFF) - There was a record number of absentee voting this past general election that some say began the groundwork for a house bill that would allow Alabamians to vote absentee without an excuse.

But this bill, along with many other voting bills, are met with adversary.

Those in favor of House Bill 396 said it would do more than allow people to vote absentee without an excuse.

“The offices would be able to hire more positions for the process because theoretically you would have a lot more people vote by absentee ballot,” said Executive Director Emma Steelman with Vote Huntsville.

She also said this would not eliminate any safeguards with absentee voting.

“To vote absentee you do have to either show your ID in person or send a copy if you are voting by mail, and you would still need the two witness signatures on the ballot envelope or a notary,” she said.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill originally supported this bill but has since dropped that support.

“We are not proponents of no excuse absentee voting, but wanted to use this vehicle to feature that as an option to pass some other things that were important to us in streamlining the absentee process,” Secretary Merrill said.

During Wednesday’s session H.B. 396 was carried over, meaning it is being put to the side and could still be brought up later.

Now, Secretary Merrill is working with other lawmakers on a new proposal to change the deadline for absentee ballot applications to be returned from five days before the election, to ten days.

“It would change the time frame for ballots to be open from beginning on noon on election day, to beginning at seven a.m. on election day,” Secretary Merrill said.

Merrill says he hopes to get this proposal in front of lawmakers soon.

A bill to ban curbside voting in the state passed the house committee on Wednesday and is now headed to the full house for a vote.

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