Absentee ballots available

Published 11:23 pm Monday, February 6, 2012

If you’ve ever wondered if the power of a single vote really counts, consider the 1960 presidential election.

Then-Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts won the presidential election over Vice President Richard Nixon by a margin of less than two votes per precinct, according to a New York Times article announcing the victory.

“Every vote is important,” said Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough. “And absentee voting is a great tool to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”

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But, you can’t just vote with an absentee ballot because you don’t feel like going to the polls on Election Day.

A person has to have a physical illness which prevents attendance, work a shift of at least 10 hours which coincide with the hours polls are open, be a student at an educational institution located outside of the county of primary residence, be the member of, or spouse or dependent of a member of, the armed forces of the United States and deployed, or be an election officer or poll watcher at a polling place other than their regular polling place.

“It’s not just available because you don’t want to go vote,” Scarbrough said.

To obtain an absentee ballot, a person can download the application online  at www.alabamavotes.gov and mail the request to the circuit clerk’s office. People can also call and request an application from the circuit clerk’s office, or have a friend or family member pick one up.  However, only the voter can return the application, either by mail or in person.  “We aren’t just going to let someone walk in with a stack of applications for other people,” Scarbrough said. “We verify everything in the computer to make sure people are registered to vote and their addresses match.”

Absentee ballots are then sent to the voter by mail, along with a secrecy envelope to return the votes. That happens the same day the application is received, according to Scarbrough.

The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is March 8. The last day to hand-deliver or postmark a mailed absentee ballot is March 12. Scarbrough said there were 30 requests for absentee ballots, so far, this year.

“It’s a great thing we can do this,” Scarbrough said.