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Enquirer photo/Rebekah Yancey

Merrill visits Morgan County ahead of absentee ballot deadline

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill made stops in Morgan County Wednesday to speak to Alabama voters and raise awareness about voter deadlines ahead of the Nov. 2 general election.

Today is the last day voters in Alabama can apply for an absentee ballot and those who choose to vote absentee have until the close of business Nov. 2 to hand-deliver their ballots to the Morgan County Board of Registrars.

“The last day the ballot can be received in the mail is Nov. 3 by noon,” Merrill said, adding those deadlines are set by law.

Promoting voter registration through education and orientation are Merrill’s goals, and spreading that message is what brought him to the Tennessee Valley, he said.

“Now it’s voter participation since the registration deadline was Oct. 19,” he said.

“We’ve broken every record in the history of the state for voter registration – we’re continuing to break records on voter participation and we’ll do it again next Tuesday,” Merrill said. “It’s not like most Republicans are recognized for increasing voter role numbers, but we’ve done it and I’m very proud of it because it means more Alabamians are able to participate in the process.”

Merrill said 1,734,767 new voters have registered in Alabama since he took office in January 2015.

“Those numbers are unprecedented and unparalleled in the history of Alabama and per capita, no state in the Union can match those numbers within that same period of time. What I’ve been trying to do is just spread the message and the word about what we’re doing to try to get more people involved,” he said.

Merrill said Alabama has a total of 3,706,736 registered voters out of a total population of 4.8 million people, a number he expects to rise once the 2020 Census results are calculated.

The number of people applying for and returning absentee ballots in this election cycle is also breaking records, according to Merrill.

“We have had 301,000 people apply for absentee ballot applications and we’ve had 240,000 ballots successfully returned,” he said, noting those numbers more than doubled the previous record set in 2012.

Merrill said he suspects COVID-19 is partially responsible for the record-breaking numbers of absentee ballot applications while adding that heightened awareness thanks to television commercials have certainly added to those numbers.

“We’ve also been able to streamline the absentee process, enabling all registered voters to mark the box that says ‘I’m ill or infirmed and unable to appear at my polling site.’ Additionally, the enthusiasm and the energy of people wanting to participate in this cycle is tremendous,” he said. “People are wanting to get out and vote and wanting to register to vote who have never registered before because they think their voice is going to be heard and their vote is going to matter.”