Limestone County Circuit Court Clerk Brad Curnutt is busy during any election, but especially so when it’s time to elect a new President of the United States. It is his responsibility to handle every aspect of absentee voting, and Brad wanted to make sure the residents of Limestone County are fully educated as to the process so they can participate in it if they qualify.
I have long been impressed with how seriously officials and volunteers alike in Limestone County approach their responsibilities when it comes to voting. It doesn’t matter if the election is confined to our city, or if it is on the federal level, making sure that things are done “decently and in order” is a top priority, for which I am most grateful.
Probably the most important things to talk about first are the dates for absentee voting in this election, and then who qualifies. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Thursday, November 3rd. However, Brad emphasized two things: the entire process must be completed within 5 days, and you absolutely CANNOT vote on Friday, November 4th. “Don’t procrastinate,” he said, and added, “You don’t want your vote to not count because it wasn’t submitted on time.”
Who qualifies for an absentee ballot? According to the official Limestone County voting website found at http://www.votelimestone.com/voter-information/absentee-voting/, absentee voting may be utilized if the voter:
• WILL BE ABSENT FROM THE COUNTY on election day
• IS ILL OR HAS A PHYSICAL DISABILITY that prevents a trip to the polling place
• IS AREGISTERED ALABAMA VOTER LIVING OUTSIDE THE COUNTY such as a member of the armed forces, a voter employed outside the United States, a college student, or a spouse or child of such a person
• IS AN APPOINTED ELECTION OFFICER OR POLL WATCHER at a polling place other than his or her regular polling place
• WORKS A REQUIRED SHIFT, 10-HOURS OR MORE, that coincides with polling hours
BUSINESS/MEDICAL EMERGENCY VOTING applications can be made after the absentee deadline but no later than 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election, if the voter:
• is required by an employer under unforeseen circumstances to be out of the county on election day for an emergency business trip, or
• has a medical emergency requiring treatment by a licensed physician
In addition, the business emergency application contains an affidavit acknowledging that the voter was not aware of the out-of-county business trip prior to the normal absentee ballot deadline. The medical emergency application requires that the attending physician describe and certify the circumstances as constituting an emergency.
It is interesting to note that Limestone County was a test county for UAOCAVA, which stands for Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which was developed to make sure that everyone had a chance to vote securely, and now all counties must comply. Brad is more than satisfied with the UAOCAVA’s cyber-security level, and here is how it works: the completed paper application is sent to Brad’s office, it is approved, then the link with a PIN# is emailed to the voter. It is held until voting day, then unlocked. “This is a way to get their vote counted, especially soldiers,” said Brad. I know that when I was in Iraq soldiers complained that their votes were not counted, and I am glad to know that this secure option exists to serve them.
If you have qualified for absentee voting state side, you can either mail in your ballot, or cast it in person at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office, which is located on the second floor of the Limestone County Water Authority building. The physical address where you come to cast your ballot under supervision is 520 South Jefferson Street, Athens, AL 35611. That’s the corner of Jefferson and Forrest. The hours you can cast your ballot are Monday through Friday, 8 am until noon, and 1pm until 4:30pm. If you mail your ballot, the address you want to use is 200 Washington Street West, Athens, AL, 35611. You must bring approved identification in order to vote. Brad said with a chuckle, “Ain’t no dead people voting!”
Brad also told me, “So far we have processed around 425 votes.” He then added, “Some people think their vote only counts in a tie, but every vote counts, and every vote is locked up until it’s counted.” He personally records the date an application is received, when the ballot is sent, and the date the ballot was returned. All in all, every precaution is taken to ensure your right to vote is protected, so please, don’t fail to use the absentee voting option if you need it. If you have any questions, call Brad at the Circuit Court Clerk’s office at (256) 233-6406.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner