By Alabama NewsCenter Staff
As one who was beaten and bloodied pursuing the right to vote for Black Americans, the late John Lewis understood as well as anyone the power of voting and the cost of securing that right. In 1965, the future U.S. congressman was among peaceful protesters attempting to march for voting rights who were attacked by Alabama State Troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on what became known as “Bloody Sunday.”
“The right to vote is precious,” Lewis said in 2016. “It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. We must use it.”
For those in Alabama who are not registered to vote, the window on exercising that precious right this Election Day is closing. Monday, Oct. 19 is the last day to register to vote for the Nov. 3 general election, according to the Alabama secretary of state’s office.
To register, you must be a U.S. citizen, live in Alabama, be at least 18 years old on or before Election Day, and must not have been barred from voting because of a disqualifying felony conviction or have been judged “mentally incompetent” in court.
Other important upcoming dates for voters to know:
Thursday, Oct. 29 is the last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the general election.
If you mail an absentee ballot application, note that only one application can be placed in the same envelope. You must submit a copy of your valid photo ID with the application. Among valid ID: driver’s license; nondriver ID; Alabama photo voter ID; state-issued ID; pistol permit with photo; federal issued ID; U.S. passport; employee ID from the federal government, state of Alabama, county, municipality board, authority or other entity of the state; student or employee ID from a college or university in Alabama; military ID; and tribal ID.
The secretary of state’s office instructs that if you plan on voting absentee due to COVID-19, check the box on the application that says, “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.”
Monday, Nov. 2 is the last day an absentee ballot being returned by mail to the absentee election manager can be postmarked. Absentee ballots must be received by the absentee election manager no later than noon on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.
Absentee ballots come with three envelopes – a secrecy envelope, one with an affidavit printed on the outside and one plain, pre-addressed envelope. Once you cast your votes, seal the ballot in the plain envelope, place the plain envelope inside the affidavit envelope and complete the affidavit on the outside of the envelope. Sign the affidavit and have it witnessed by either a notary public or two witnesses at least 18 years old. The ballot will not be counted unless the affidavit is notarized or has the signatures of two witnesses.
The secretary of state’s office recommends that those who are mailing their completed absentee ballots should affix three first-class stamps to the plain, pre-addressed envelope to ensure proper postage.
Voters can also return their absentee ballots by commercial carriers such as Fed Ex or UPS, or deliver their ballot in person to the absentee election manager.
Monday, Nov. 2 is the last day for absentee ballots to be returned by hand to the absentee election manager, and it must be done by the close of business that day (no later than 5 p.m.).
Tuesday, Nov. 3 is Election Day. Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.