No-excuse absentee voting bill has support from Montgomery to Huntsville

WAAY 31 spoke with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on why this bill is such a big deal for the state.

Posted: Feb 26, 2021 9:27 PM
Updated: Feb 26, 2021 10:22 PM

Democratic State Rep. Laura Hall filed a bill in Montgomery that would get rid of the requirement that asked people to give an excuse to cast an absentee ballot.

In the last election year, we know a historic number of people voted and there was a large increase in the number of absentee voters due to fear of coronavirus.

WAAY 31 spoke with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, who's in support of this bill, on why it's so important this becomes law.

A record number of 38,000 people voted absentee in Madison County last year.

Secretary Merrill told us he's in support of the bill and even helped make Rep. Hall's argument stronger.

"Changing the time when absentee ballots can be open from noon until 7 a.m. each election day and also changing the period of time when absentee ballots can be returned," said Merrill.

Before, you had to check a box stating you have a physical illness or infirmity that prevented you from being able to come to the polls, to vote absentee. But, because of coronavirus, last year, Merrill secured an emergency rule to waive the excuse requirement.

"It just alleviates a stressor as it relates to trying to figure out 'am I going to be out of town on this day or will I be in the county?'" said Angela Curry.

Curry, who's the Executive Director of the group United Women of Color, hopes the bill pulls through as well. She, along with two other voter groups, helped many people understand how​ to fill out their absentee ballots.

On the other side, some think if the bill passes, it could promote voter fraud. Curry doesn't think so.

"No one wants to put themselves in a position where now, they're coming under punitive reaction from the law or breaking the law," she said.

Curry also believes without this measure, it opens up the possibility of voter suppression.

Whether someone has to work late and he or she wants to vote early or if coronavirus is still an issue, everyone will have a fair chance. That's exactly the message Merrill wants to let voters know.

"We have to make sure peoples' votes are protected and that their ballot will count for the candidate of their choice and we want them to be able to do that in a safe and secure environment," said Merrill.

An additional note in the bill includes allowing more​ staff at each site to help with the increased number of registered voters we've seen in the last year.

We've reached out to Rep. Hall to see when they may vote on the bill, and we're waiting to hear back.

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 51°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 52°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
52° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 52°
Decatur
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 52°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 54°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522131

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson754831494
Mobile39111799
Madison34084500
Tuscaloosa25396444
Montgomery24037573
Shelby23210242
Baldwin20714302
Lee15614166
Calhoun14350311
Morgan14164273
Etowah13696348
Marshall12007220
Houston10408279
Elmore10018203
Limestone9858148
Cullman9507191
St. Clair9478236
Lauderdale9271233
DeKalb8760183
Talladega8122173
Walker7146276
Autauga6760106
Jackson6760110
Blount6529133
Colbert6234132
Coffee5431113
Dale4779111
Russell430939
Franklin420982
Chilton4114110
Covington4068115
Tallapoosa3915148
Escambia390374
Dallas3525150
Chambers3516122
Clarke347260
Marion3072100
Pike306576
Lawrence296295
Winston273272
Bibb256361
Marengo248461
Geneva246275
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213168
Fayette209460
Henry188144
Cherokee182744
Randolph177241
Monroe172740
Washington165338
Macon156148
Clay150155
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne146741
Lamar139734
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock121940
Conecuh109528
Perry107626
Sumter103232
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 830484

Reported Deaths: 12049
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby927281585
Davidson87309923
Knox49411623
Hamilton43254481
Rutherford41816420
Williamson27237214
Sumner23155339
Montgomery19075224
Wilson17979224
Out of TN1794598
Unassigned16655134
Sullivan16096287
Blount14963194
Bradley14518147
Washington14129242
Sevier13116174
Maury13021168
Putnam11155173
Madison10771240
Robertson9567127
Anderson8599171
Hamblen8478170
Greene7715152
Tipton7216102
Coffee6824121
Dickson6724109
Cumberland6555127
Carter6443156
Bedford6409127
Gibson6387144
McMinn634295
Roane6174102
Jefferson6061121
Loudon601169
Lawrence578686
Hawkins5766106
Monroe570295
Warren550881
Dyer5357104
Franklin508388
Fayette490377
Obion449996
Cocke442998
Cheatham442254
Rhea430375
Lincoln429563
Marshall410358
Campbell408462
Weakley401962
Giles393998
Henderson372475
Macon357376
Carroll357182
White353968
Hardin349166
Hardeman345863
Lauderdale314244
Henry311875
Marion308346
Claiborne305573
Scott305145
Overton296360
Wayne294234
Hickman279645
McNairy276754
DeKalb274953
Smith273938
Haywood268161
Grainger258449
Trousdale248722
Morgan245539
Fentress238046
Johnson230238
Bledsoe209411
Chester209351
Crockett200948
Polk199024
Unicoi194149
Cannon188831
Union185634
Grundy177232
Humphreys173621
Lake169526
Sequatchie166428
Benton162940
Decatur157338
Lewis155726
Meigs134123
Stewart130028
Jackson129635
Clay109031
Houston108333
Perry105728
Moore99717
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54712

Community Events