What is HB 396?

Alabama House Bill 396, No-excuse Absentee Voting, would allow registered voters to vote absentee in any election > no excuse needed. It would eliminate the elaborate justifications from the absentee ballot application and the affidavit envelope. Voters will still be required to provide photo identification to apply for an absentee ballot and they still must include a notary signature (or two witness signatures) on the ballot affidavit envelope. 

 

It is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall (D) and cosponsored by Secretary of State John Merrill (R) and Rep. Wadsworth (R). Citizens in 34 states currently have the option to vote absentee without an excuse.

 

Other notable aspects of the bill: 

  • Mailed absentee ballot applications must be received no later than 10 days prior to an election

  • Hand-delivered absentee ballot applications must be received no later than 5 days prior to an election

  • Eliminates the requirement that an absentee ballot be postmarked the day before an election

  • Election officials may begin counting absentee ballots at 7am on election day (previously noon)

  • Allows absentee election managers to hire 2 assistants

The bill had its first reading in the House on February 9 and was sent to the Constitution, Campais, and Election Committee. The committee held a public hearing for the bill on Feb 24. I Vote Madison submitted written testimony in support of the bill. The committee is planning to vote on the bill sometime next week as soon as Wednesday, March 3. If it passes the committee it will return to the House.