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Election FAQ: Things you need to know before you vote


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.

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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.

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.

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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?

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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.

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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?

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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 or with the board of registrars for documents needed.

Do I have to vote in every race?

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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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