Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Deadline to file for absentee ballot extended to seven days before elections

It has changed from five days before an election to seven days before the election.

An absentee ballot application.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Tuesday that the “deadline to return an absentee ballot application by mail has changed from five days before the election to seven days before the election.”

The Legislature made the change in House Bill 538, which passed during the 2021 legislative session and has now been signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey. HB538 was sponsored by state Representative Alan Baker, R-Brewton, and carried in the Senate by state Sen. Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman.

Merrill explained that HB538 provides updates to the absentee voting process.

“In order to accommodate for future delays by the Postal Service, the deadline to return an absentee ballot application by mail has changed from five days before the election to seven days before the election,” Merrill said. “The deadline for absentee ballot applications returned by hand remains five days before the election. This change, which only affects the application process, will not change any deadline related to actual absentee ballots. This change is to ensure that any Alabama voter who requests an absentee ballot receives it in a timely manner.”

During the 2020 Election Cycle, the secretary of state’s office, as well as local absentee offices across the state, heard from voters who had requested absentee ballots but had not yet received them. Eventually, the United States Postal Service issued guidance encouraging ballot requests at least 15 days before Election Day.

The original version of HB538 that passed out of the Alabama House of Representatives had changed the deadline from five days before the election to ten days before the election. The Senate changed that to seven days before the election.

“This change to seven days is a good compromise that will ensure absentee ballot applications are processed and absentee ballots are sent out with adequate time for voters to participate in Alabama elections,” Merrill said. “In addition, this legislation will allow for the opening of absentee ballots, for tabulation, to begin at 7:00 a.m. on Election Day, as opposed to noon, to provide for the timely counting of absentee ballots following the close of polls. With the hard work of Representative Alan Baker, R-Brewton and Senator Garlan Gudger, R-Cullman, Alabamians will continue to receive unofficial election results on election night.”

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

As the deadlines to return and receive absentee ballots is very clearly defined under state law, the postmark deadline was removed under this bill as it is unnecessary and potentially confusing to voters. All updates have been reflected on the website of the secretary of state.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

More from the Alabama Political Reporter


Allen campaigned on withdrawing the state from the info-sharing organization, citing privacy concerns.


Alabama rarely fails to deliver when it comes to political news. 2022 was no exception.


The funds will provide services including safe shelter, crisis lines, counseling, referrals, advocacy and assistance in filing victims’ compensation claims.


ERIC is a multi-state voter information center that cross-checks voter data to prevent inter-state fraud.


The election for secretary of state will be determined by voters on Tuesday, Nov. 8.


Merrill said his office does not maintain the polling place lists and that the law requires county officials to post those lists.


Deadlines for applying for an absentee ballot and returning ballots are quickly approaching.


Nov. 1 is the last day that absentee ballot applications returned by mail can be received.