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Election FAQ: Things you need to know before you vote

Chip Brownlee | The Trace

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Voters will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for a number of local, state and national elected offices. Before you go, take a look at this FAQ to make sure you’re updated on what you need to know before you vote.

What’s on the ballot?

More than a dozen statewide elected offices will be on the ballot. That’s in addition to congressional seats, varying local offices, local ballot measures and four proposed state constitutional amendments.

Alabama holds statewide general elections every four years, which coincide with midterm elections on the national level.

You can see what the ballot will look like in your county by visiting this page on the Secretary of State’s website.

What’s at stake?

Tuesday’s election has a two-fold significance in Alabama. On the national level, Alabamians will be voting in seven congressional races. Six are seen as pretty solidly Republican and the 7th Congressional District is almost assuredly to remain under Democratic control because U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell has no opponent.

But the race isn’t just about Democratic or Republican control of the House. It’s unlikely any of Alabama’s congressional seats will flip, but folks will be watching to see if Democrats can cut into Republican votes in several districts, specifically the 3rd and 2nd Congressional Districts, where Democrats are running candidates viewed as particularly viable.

On the state level, Democrats are hoping to cash in on Democratic enthusiasm on nationally and locally after Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ election in December 2017.

It’s not so much about whether Democrats will win. Rather, it’s a question of whether Democrats can even compete in Alabama anymore or if the state will again remain solidly Republican.

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Where do I vote?

Voters can only vote at their designated polling location. That depends on your county, city and precinct. The only way to be sure is to check your voter registration confirmation card mailed to you by your county board of registrars or to find your location online here.

How long are polls open?

Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Can I still vote after 7 p.m. if I’m in line?

If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you can still vote.

Can I still register to vote?

The deadline was Oct. 22. Unfortunately, you can’t register anymore. And registration is required to vote.

Did I need to re-register if I voted recently?

No, you don’t have to re-register before every election. If you’ve voted in recent elections, you should still be registered to vote. You may need to update your information at the polls if you’ve moved addresses.

How can I check if I’m registered?

You can check your registration status on this webpage.

What do I need to take with me?

You need a valid form of state-issued photo ID, which can include a driver’s license, a state-provided voter ID card, a military ID, a passport or a valid college ID form a public university.

Here is a list of all valid IDs:

  • Valid Driver’s License
  • Valid Non-driver ID
  • Valid Alabama Photo Voter ID
  • Valid State Issued ID (Alabama or any other state)
  • Valid Federal Issued ID
  • Valid US Passport
  • Valid Employee ID from Federal Government, State of Alabama, County Government, Municipality, Board, Authority, or other entity of this state
  • Valid student or employee ID from a college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools)
  • Valid Military ID
  • Valid Tribal ID

You can check to see what’s considered a valid photo ID here.

Can I vote early?

No, Alabama does not have early voting.

Is it too late to vote absentee?

Yes and no. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot was Thursday, Nov. 1.

If you have received an absentee ballot, it must be postmarked in the mail by Monday and received by your county absentee election manager no later than noon on election day.

You can also hand-deliver your absentee ballot to your county election office by 5 p.m. on Monday.

Don’t forget that you are legally obligated to have a state-approved excuse to vote absentee. It is not the same as early voting or voting by mail.

More information about absentee ballots is available here.

Can I still vote if I’m listed as an “inactive” voter on the rolls?

Yes, you can still vote, and your vote will count. Inactive voters are those who have moved and didn’t change their addresses, resulting in mailings from election officials being returned.

If you’re listed as inactive when you get to the polls Tuesday, you can still vote, but you will be asked to update your information on a form and go to the back of the line.

What if I don’t have a photo ID?

You can go to the polls and vote a provisional ballot if you don’t have a photo ID or forgot it at home. If you vote a provisional ballot, it’s your responsibility to verify your information or your ballot won’t be counted.

You have until the following Friday to follow up with your county board of registrars to confirm your identity.

Check alabamavotes.gov or with the board of registrars for documents needed.

Do I have to vote in every race?

No, you don’t. You can vote in as many races as you want. Only the races you bubble in will count.

What is straight-party voting?

You have the option to select straight-ticket Republican or straight-ticket Democratic on the top of the ballot. That means you are voting for every person on the ballot who is a Republican or a Democrat, respectively. If there are non-partisan races on the ballot, your vote won’t count in those unless you bubble them in. You must also vote for proposed constitutional amendments and local ballot measures separately.

Can I vote straight-party and vote differently in a particular race?

Yes. You can vote straight party, but if you vote in any particular race, your vote in that race will override your straight-party vote, but only in that race. So, for example, you could vote straight-party Republican and then vote for a Democrat in your House district. If you did that, you would still be voting for every Republican except for the particular race in which you voted for a Democrat.

 

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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Elections

Faith in Action Alabama calls on law enforcement to protect voters from harassment

“In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.”

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

Nine clergy members from across the state have signed an open letter calling on local and state law enforcement to protect voters against intimidation and harassment at the polls.

The clergy are leaders in Faith in Action Alabama, a regional association of Christian congregations affiliated with the national group Faith in Action, the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the country. It seeks to address a range of issues like gun violence, health care, immigration and voting rights.

This is their letter:

Across our country and here in Alabama, it is being seen that citizens are turning out in record numbers to vote early and by absentee ballots. It is very heartening to see so many of our fellow citizens energized and committed to exercising that most fundamental and critical duty of citizenship, the use of their franchise.  As servant leaders of an ecumenical association of nearly 2,000 faith communities across our state we are certainly encouraging our congregants to fulfill this duty either through early, absentee or day of election voting. For us this is not only part of our civic duty, but as people of faith obligation as well.

Unfortunately, it it also largely known that there are forces in our country that are actively, publicly and fervently at work to suppress the votes of some of our fellow citizens. We write to implore you to use the full authority of your office and department to ensure that those who seek to vote, especially on November 3, 2020 are not assailed or intimidated by illegal harassment in their polling places. We believe these threats are pervasive enough and real enough that proactive measures should be in place as citizens come to vote throughout that day. The strong, visible presence of uniformed legitimate law officers will hopefully prevent any attempts at confrontation or intimidation and violence.

The history of our state is marked by the efforts of tens of thousands of Alabamians who marched, protested, brought legal actions, shed their blood and some even gave their lives that every citizen of this state might have full and free access to the ballot box. In these harrowing days it is incumbent upon all of us as citizens and you and your colleagues as law enforcement professionals to do all we can to maintain this right secured by so much courage and sacrifice.

Please be assured of our prayers for you and the men and women of your department who have the awesome responsibility of providing public safety and equal protection under the law for every Alabamian. If we, the members of Faith in Action Alabama’s Clergy Leadership Team, can be of assistance please do not hesitate to call upon us.

Sincerely,

Rev. Jeremiah Chester, St. Mark Baptist Church, Huntsville

Rev. David Frazier, Sr., Revelation Missionary Baptist Church, Mobile, and Moderator, Mobile Baptist Sunlight Association

Bishop Teresa Jefferson-Snorton, Fifth Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

Bishop Russell Kendrick, Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast

Bishop Seth O. Lartey, Alabama-Florida Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church

President Melvin Owens, Alabama State Missionary Baptist Convention

Bishop Harry L. Seawright, Ninth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church

Dr. A.B. Sutton, Jr., Living Stones Temple, Fultondale

Father Manuel Williams, C.R., Resurrection Catholic Missions of the South, Montgomery

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Elections

Some conservatives oppose Amendment 2

An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI.

Brandon Moseley

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(STOCK PHOTO)

A number of prominent conservative voices in the state of Alabama are urging voters to vote no on Amendment 2 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.

Amendments 2 and 3 are a rewrite of the state constitutional reforms championed by former Chief Justice Howell Heflin in 1973.

An Alabama Law Institute Committee composed of legislators, judges and lawyers met in secret away from the press and public over 19 months, conducting a comprehensive review of Article VI since Heflin’s revisions were approved in Amendment No. 328 in 1973.

The resulting Amendment 2 is one of the most controversial constitutional amendments brought forward by the Republican-controlled Alabama Legislature since Gov. Bob Riley’s controversial Amendment 1 in 2003, which would have raised taxes by over a $1 billion. That was voted down by the voters, and conservatives are asking voters to similarly reject Amendment 2.

Alabama Eagle Forum is urging citizen to vote no on Amendment 2.

Amendment 2 is a complete rewrite of what is an already complicated portion of the Alabama Constitution, and it does many things. One of these is that it strips the power of the Legislature to impeach a judge.

Under current law, the Alabama House of Representatives can bring articles of impeachment against a sitting judge. If the House impeaches, the Senate sits in trial and decides whether the judge has acted improperly and is guilty of what the House has charged them with.

This closely parallels the U.S. Constitution. Amendment 2 would change all of that and instead the only power in state government who can discipline judges would be the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which brings charges against judges, and the Court of the Judiciary, which determines guilt and punishments.

The Alabama Legislature has not impeached anyone in over a hundred years. Amendment 2 would take the power of impeaching members of the judiciary away from future legislatures.

Former Chief Justice Roy Moore opposes Amendment 2 and explained that stripping the Legislature of the power to discipline a judge for cause takes away a powerful check on the judiciary and violates the principle of checks and balances between the three branches of government. Moore also objected to giving more power to the unelected Judicial Inquiry Commission.

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Moore, like Eagle Forum, also strongly objected to taking the chief justice’s power to appoint his own administrative director of the Alabama Court System and instead gives it to the full Supreme Court.

The chief justice is the elected head of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, he or she would not be able to hire their own administrator but would be forced to work with an administrator chosen by the Supreme Court as a whole.

The current administrative director of the Alabama Court System is Rich Hobson, who was appointed by Chief Justice Tom Parker. Hobson is in his third tenure as administrative director of the Alabama Court System. The previous two times he was appointed by Moore.

When Moore was effectively removed by the Court of the Judiciary his replacement as chief justice fired Hobson.

If Amendment 2 passes, the associate justices could overrule Chief Justice Tom Parker, fire Hobson and replace him with someone of their choosing.

This situation would also apply to Democrats. The last Democrat elected to the role of chief justice was Sue Bell Cobb in 2006. Cobb was able to appoint her own administrative director of the Alabama Court System, but under Amendment 2, the administrative director of the Alabama Court System would have been someone suitable to the Republican associate justices, who could simply outvote the chief justice.

Moore called this move a “power grab” by the associate justices.

“Amendment 2 is really an anti-democratic and anti-Tom Parker amendment,” Foundation for Moral Law staff attorney Matt Clark said. “It is anti-democratic because it removes the people’s main check on the judicial branch, which is impeachment. Instead, it provides that only the Judicial Inquiry Commission, over which the people have no control, may remove a judge from office. It is also designed to strip Chief Justice Parker of his power as the administrative head of the judicial branch to choose his right-hand man for carrying out the judicial branch’s administrative role.”

Eagle Forum also had a number of other objections to the extremely long and complicated Amendment 2, including that it takes away the power of the lieutenant governor to make JIC appointments and gives them to the governor.

The Alabama Constables Association has also come out strongly against Amendment 2, arguing that it would write the funding mechanism for their position completely out of the state constitution.

“Constables are not taxpayer-funded, they are largely voluntary Peace Officers,” said Jefferson County Constable Jonathan Barbee. “The fees they collect from their duties as Officers of the Courts allow them to support the expenses of the office such as vehicles, uniforms, and equipment. Amendment 2 also deletes the language protecting how Constables are paid by private court fees, leaving it in question for the appointed Administrator to decide.”

In Alabama, constables are elected peace officers and act in many of the same ways as do sheriff’s deputies. They’re able to make arrests, serve court papers and provide security for parades, funerals and other functions.

Amendment 2 was sponsored by State Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur.

Voters need to remember to vote on the constitutional amendments. Amendment 2 is extremely long and complicated so voters should probably read it and know how they are going to vote before going to the polls.

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FarmPAC endorses congressional candidate Barry Moore

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA MOORE CAMPAIGN)

Republican congressional candidate Barry Moore thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s 2nd Congressional District general election race.

“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”

“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”

“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”

A full list of FarmPAC’s endorsements is available here. FarmPAC previously endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary, but he was bested by Moore in a Republican primary runoff.

Moore faces Democratic nominee Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.

Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby, R-Alabama, is retiring from Congress after five terms.

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Jones to attend Auburn student forum, Tuberville hasn’t yet responded to invitation

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville, right.

The College Democrats at Auburn University and the College Republicans at Auburn University have asked U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, to attend a student forum on Wednesday.

“We are excited to invite the candidates running for our U.S. Senate seat and provide this opportunity for any Auburn student to hear directly from them, and we hope it will inform our student bodies’ decisions with the November 3rd election only days away,” said Carsten Grove, president of the College Democrats at Auburn University, in a statement.

Jones has agreed to attend the forum, Auburn University College Democrats confirmed for APR on Sunday, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend. The student organization  was still awaiting a response from Tuberville’s campaign.

Jones has for months requested Tuberville join him in a debate, but Tuberville has declined.

“AUCR takes great pleasure in coming together with AUCD to co-host the Alabama Senate candidates in this forum. We are looking forward to a very informative and constructive event,” said Lydia Maxwell, president of the College Republicans at Auburn University.

Dr. Ryan Williamson, assistant professor of political science, is to emcee the forum, which will be open to all Auburn University students in the Mell Classroom Building at 6 p.m., according to a press release from the College Democrats at Auburn University.

Students will be permitted 30 seconds to ask a question of either candidate, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer, according to the release.

Capacity at the forum will be limited and precautions taken due to COVID-19. Any student with an Auburn ID is welcome and attendance will be first come, first served.

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