There is no in-person absentee voting on Saturdays in Madison County because the Madison County Commission won’t open the courthouse.
That was the explanation provided Tuesday by Madison County clerk Debra Kiser’s office for why Madison County — the state’s third most populous county — has chosen not to offer expanded absentee voting hours, including Saturday voting, to ease high demand.
“The courthouse is not open on the weekends and this office is located inside the courthouse,” said a clerk’s office employee who did not provide her name. “That’s a decision for the County Commission. At least, that is my understanding. We can’t make that call.”
Numerous attempts to reach anyone on the county commission Tuesday were unsuccessful, including messages left on the personal cell phones of two commissioners and two messages left at the courthouse.
Kiser also was not available for comment, the employee said, because she was “busy handling absentee voting.” A message left for her was not returned.
The employee said absentee voting in Madison County has been “incredibly busy” this year and that workers had come in over the weekend in an attempt to process all the absentee ballot applications.
Why the office could be open for workers to handle absentee ballot applications but not to allow voting is unclear.
Secretary of State John Merrill told APR on Monday that his office has made available funds to cover the costs for any county that wants to expand voting hours to Saturday or holidays or longer daily hours.
“Absolutely (those funds are available),” Merrill said. “We are supportive of any county that wants to offer absentee in-person voting any day of the week.”
Several counties, including three of the state’s four largest counties — Jefferson, Montgomery and Mobile — have taken advantage of the opportunity to ease the strain on both voters and workers. Allowing for the expansion of in-person absentee voting hours means less confusion on Election Day, because those ballots will already be cast and workers can verify that voters properly filled out their ballots.
At least 12 other counties in the state have expanded to Saturday voting, according to Merrill’s office, and 10 more have posted notices of expanded hours in the coming weeks.