County absentee voting numbers soaring

Published 1:08 am Sunday, October 19, 2008

Absentee voting numbers have skyrocketed across the state, and locally, numbers seem to be keeping pace.

Pike County Absentee Election Manager Audrey Milton said she has never worked a presidential election, but the numbers do seem high.

“People have told me the presidential elections are usually higher numbers,” Milton said. “But, I’ve sent out so far 700 ballots so far, and they’re still coming in.”

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Milton said that number doesn’t include the more than 200 ballots she’s already had returned.

Throughout Alabama, absentee ballots have been coming in record numbers, and election officials in Alabama have reported working extra hours to keep up with the absentee ballot rush, according to the Associated Press.

While looking at stacks of ballots on her desk, Milton said she would be working through the weekend to manage absentee ballots, along with the rest of the state.

In the 2004 presidential race, Alabama cast 66,637 absentee votes, which was 3.5 percent of the total turnout.

Total absentee numbers for this race aren’t final yet since there is still time before the Nov. 4 election to cast your vote away from home.

Milton said residents have until Oct. 30 to submit an absentee ballot application, and they have until Nov. 3 to postmark or hand-deliver a ballot to the courthouse.

As of September, there were 17,800 registered voters in Pike County, and more than 1,400 were just those who signed up this year.

In the Feb. 29 primary elections, Director of the Pike County Board of Registrars Evelyn Morgan said 7,000 came out to vote in what was a high voter turnout.

Because of large absentee voting numbers and an influx of registered voters, local officials are expecting even more voters on Nov. 4.

“I’m expecting a large turnout, possibly the biggest we’ve ever experienced in Pike County,” said Probate Judge Bill Stone, who is the election manager. “We are gearing up in every way we know how to accommodate what we think is going to be a very good voter turnout.”

Stone said typically voter turnout is about 40 percent of the county’s registered voters, but this year, he said it may reach up to 65 percent.

With four contested commission races and the national presidential election, Stone said interest should be heavy on Nov. 4.

“It should be a ballot that has created a lot of interest nationally, statewide and on the local level,” Stone said.

*The Associated Press contributed to this report.