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The 2022 primary elections are here. The primary election will be held May 24. The primary runoff election will be held June 21.
Coosa County may or may not have any candidates who must have a runoff for office. My guess is that we will have a runoff election for some offices and precincts.
As always, election misinformation and/or disinformation is circulating. It seems to get worse every election cycle. Sometimes the misinformation is simply a misunderstanding of fact(s). It happens.
Other times, it is a misrepresentation of fact(s). However, the disinformation campaigns we see or hear are simply lies.
Misinformation/disinformation is often intended to make you either vote for a particular candidate or, in most cases, vote against a particular candidate. For that type misinformation/disinformation, I can only advise you to do your homework and chase down the facts before you cast your vote.
However, much of the misinformation/disinformation is intended to cause voter frustration, cause voter confusion, hinder our election process, or destroy confidence in our electoral process.
Therefore, I will address some items related to this latter purpose. First, all Coosa County polling facilities are the same as they were for the 2020 elections. Listings of these polling facilities were published in “The Coosa County News” in which we must publish all our election-related announcements.
Coosa County has not consolidated any polling facilities. As required by law, all Coosa County polling facilities will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Voter lists identifying the voter and his/her polling facility were published in “The Coosa County News.” A voter cannot vote at “any” polling facility. Voters must vote in the facility where their precinct is assigned and he/she is assigned to vote. In 2020, we saw voters increasingly showing up at facilities where the voter was not assigned attempting to cast ballots.
If the voter is registered to vote in Coosa County, our polling officials can tell the voter which facility he/she may cast their ballot. If the voter insists on casting a ballot at a facility other than his/her designated facility, the polling officials will allow the voter to cast a Provisional Ballot.
That Provisional Ballot will only be counted if the Board of Registrars determines it to be a legal ballot for that polling facility. The only exception for a voter to vote anywhere other than his/her designated facility is for the voter to vote an Absentee Ballot.
Absentee voting began on March 30. The last day for an absentee application to be received by mail was May 17. The last day for an absentee application to be hand-delivered was May 19. The last day for hand-delivered absentee ballots to be returned is May 23, by 4 p.m. The last day for mail-in absentee ballots to be received is noon, May 24.
Any absentee ballots (other than military or overseas) received after these deadlines will not be counted. The only exception to these laws is Medical Emergency Absentee applications and ballots for a voter who has a medical emergency within five (5) days of the election. Absentee ballots may not be deposited in drop boxes.
According to Section17-11-4 of the Code of Alabama, “The application may be handed by the applicant to the absentee election manager or forwarded to him or her by United States mail or by commercial carrier, as determined by rule by the Secretary of State.”
In Alabama, it is illegal for any individual to return or mail another individual’s absentee ballot application or absentee ballot. This is known as “ballot trafficking” or “ballot harvesting.”
Alabama law mandates absentee application and ballot chain of custody be strictly maintained. If the absentee application or ballot chain of custody is broken, the law has been violated and the violation is prosecutable.
Finally, relating to absentee voting. The Absentee Polling Facility polling officials are assigned and trained as are all other polling officials. These polling officials review every returned ballot envelope for proper completion, witnessing and compliance with the laws of Alabama.
If everything on the return envelope conforms with Alabama laws, the envelope is opened, and the secrecy envelope containing the actual ballot is removed. This secrecy envelope is placed in a box to be counted.
After the return envelopes are secured, polling officials will begin opening the secrecy envelopes, removing the ballots and scanning the ballots into the tabulating machines. This is done so no polling official can see who returned a specific ballot.
Also, it should be noted the absentee election manager nor the probate judge make the decisions to accept or reject any absentee return envelopes. If an absentee ballot has erroneous marks, multiple marks, or no marks at all, the ballot is tabulated/cast as is. Absentee polling officials may not attempt to re-mark, erase, or adjust a ballot to make it tabulate more correctly.
If a ballot cannot be accepted by the tabulating machine (e.g., torn/damaged), that ballot is delivered to the probate judge for hand counting in the presence of the chairpersons of the local Democratic and Republican parties and the media.
Now, from absentee voting to in-person voting. Ballots may not be taken outside the polling facility. To vote, the voter must be in line at the polling facility at 7 p.m. Photo identification (ID) is required (with extremely rare exception) to vote in Alabama.
Every polling facility has handicap voting assistance machines. Voters may request, with rare limitation, anyone the voter chooses to assist him/her with marking his/her ballot. After the voter marks his/her ballot, the voter must place it in the tabulating machine to be counted. If the voter has difficulty placing his/her ballot into the machine, the voter may request polling officials to assist the voter.
Finally relating to the election process: If you are a victim of, or witness, any type voter fraud report it to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 334-242-7210 or by visiting stopvoterfraudnow.com. If you witness something on Election Day that appears strange, notify the judge of probate or sheriff immediately so it can be investigated.
Any voter having a question should call our office (256-377-4919, option 1 or 2) or send an email (CoosaCountyProbate@Outlook.com). Voters may also ask respective political party chairpersons questions. In Coosa County, the Democratic Party chairperson is Vanessa Owens; the Republican Party chairperson is Terry Mitchell.
We all work to educate Coosa County voters and make sure all eligible votes are counted. I hope to see you at the polls on Election Day!