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Madison County poll workers prepare for up to 40,000 absentee ballots

This week and next week, workers are checking to make sure election machines are working properly and getting personal protective equipment ready.

Posted: Oct 15, 2020 9:55 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2020 10:23 PM

Poll workers in Madison County are preparing for an election day like no other.

Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger says as of today, his office has processed more than 25,000 absentee ballots and about 17,000 have been returned already.

In Alabama, poll workers cannot start counting absentee ballots until election day.

WAAY 31 learned how Judge Barger plans to make sure all of those votes are counted.

"I think this election is one that will define the soul of America," said voter Stephen Butler.

For Butler, voting is a priority.

"Going in person gives me the ability to ensure that my vote is counted, and see it go into the actual machine," said Butler.

But he's also considering mailing in his ballot.

"I think it makes sense. I think we're in an environment where quarantine is a good norm," said Butler.

With so many absentee ballots this year, some people are nervous it will take longer than election day to finalize votes.

"I think that's valid, especially when we talk about the scale of that," said Butler.

"Will we be done at 7 p.m.? I can't answer that question. We will not receive results from our polling locations that quickly. What I will assure you is that we will count every single, every single absentee ballot," said Barger.

Barger says absentee ballots could easily reach 40,000 by the deadline on Oct. 29, so his office is tripling the number of poll workers and using a special ballot machine.

"It works the same way as the tabulator does at every polling location, it's just high speed. It will count over 200 ballots per minute," said Barger.

This week and next week, workers are checking to make sure election machines are working properly and getting personal protective equipment ready, something Butler supports.

"I want to ensure that my vote matters and counts," said Butler.

Starting next Monday, the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office will have a booth set up outside the court house, so voters can drop off their absentee ballots without having to get out of their cars.

This option will be available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Oct. 29.

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