Federal Court Says ID, Witnesses Required For Absentee Voting

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Lena LeRay, Flickr

People who want to vote by absentee ballot now must provide a photo ID to apply for an absentee ballot and have the signatures of two witnesses or a notary to cast the ballot itself.

A federal court ruled Tuesday that the state should enforce those requirements.

Photo ID and witnesses have been required under the law for previous elections in Alabama. But a federal judge ruled last month that they were overly burdensome during a pandemic for older people and people with health conditions. The U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday overruled the earlier order issued by U.S. District Court Judge Abdul Kallon.

“The photo ID and witness requirements are necessary deterrents for those looking to commit voter fraud, and I am glad the 11th Circuit has recognized their importance in safeguarding the elections process,” Secretary of State John Merrill said in a statement.

However, the 11th Circuit did uphold a portion of Kallon’s ruling that said the state could not bar counties from offering curbside voting. Merrill’s statement said his office had not been notified of any counties that wanted to offer curbside voting, but the state intends to appeal that portion of the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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