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This page is intended to inform you on particular voting issues. You will find links and information concerning your right to vote, other rights, how to register, how to restore your right to vote, how to contact your representatives, and other useful information. If you have any suggestions for this page, please feel free to contact us.

Prior to the Election

Pre-election activities of voters include registration and voting by absentee ballot. In both processes, voters must meet certain qualifications to either register or vote by absentee ballot.

Qualifications of Electors

Electors are permitted to vote in any election. An elector is an individual who has met several basic requirements. First, a person must be 18 years old and a citizen of the United States. U.S. Constitution, Amendment XXVI; and § 17-3-9. Second, in the case of municipal elections only, a person must have resided in the municipality at least 30 days prior to voting in the election. §§11-46-38, 11-46-109. Third, the prospective voter must not be under a disability of idiocy, insanity, or have been convicted of a felony. Const. of Ala. of 1901 Art. VIII §182; Ala. Code §17-3-9. Fourth, a person must be duly registered in Alabama to vote in Alabama elections. Const. of Ala. of 1901 Art. VIII §178, as amended by Amds. 96 and 207.

Registering to Vote

State law requires that the county board board of registrars not register any person as a qualified elector within 10 days prior to any election. § 17-4-120. The registration process has undergone tremendous changes with the state implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

Voters can register at county boards of registrars, normally located in the county courthouse. In addition, citizens can register to vote when applying for or renewing their state driver's licenses or state identification cards, or while receiving services at a number of state and local government offices. In addition, postcard registration forms are available at a wide number of locations to allow registration by mail. For more information concerning registration opportunities you may read the NVRA Chapter 6.
Online Voter Registration Application
Voter Registration Information
List of all County Board of Registrar's addresses and phones
About the National Voter Registration Act
The Voting Rights Act
U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Voting Section FAQs

Voter Assistance

Voting assistance is allowed as long as the registered voter seeking assistance and the person providing assistance sign the proper column on the voting list.

Formerly, if voters were unable to read or write, or were so physically disabled that they could not make marks on the ballot, the voter had to take an oath swearing to the need for assistance. The voter then named a person to provide assistance and the inspector sent for the person. §§11-46-40, 11-46-51, 11-46-111, 17-8-29, 17-16-26, 17-16-27.

However, the United States District Court found statutory assistance provisions requiring an oath to be unconstitutional in the decision of Harris v. Siegelman, 700 F.Supp. 1083 (M.D. Ala. 1988). Such provisions have racially discriminatory effects. The Court does provide that "any person who wishes assistance in voting may have that assistance from any person the voter chooses, except as prohibited in the Voting Rights Act of 1965."

Assistance in signing the poll list may be required by voters who are disabled or illiterate. In the case of a physical handicap, a poll worker writes the voter's name on the poll list, and then signs his or her own name on the same line. § 17-7-15.

In the case of illiteracy, the voter makes his or her mark on the list, a poll worker writes the voter's name beside it, then the worker signs his or her own name on the same line as a witness. § 17-7-15.

To obtain assistance the voter must specifically request assistance by identifying the person from whom assistance is sought including a poll official, and by signing in the second column of the voters' poll list. The person providing assistance shall sign in the third column on the same line as the assisted voter. By so signing the assistant shall attest to the statement printed on the form that he or she is not the voter's employer, an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union. If the voter is unable to sign the poll list, the person giving assistance will write the voter's name in the second column and sign his or her name in the third column.

Voting a Provisional Ballot

If for some reason an individual is a qualified elector but is not listed on the official voters' list, which the poll officials have been furnished, the voter will be required to vote a challenged ballot.

This means a voter, in the presence of one of the polling officers selected as a challenger, must sign an oath that he or she is duly qualified to vote in the election at hand. Furthermore, the voter must sign an oath attesting to his or her identity as represented to the poll officials. See Appendix for reproduction of a challenged ballot form §17-12-3. Once the voter has completed the appropriate challenged ballot form, the voter is then given a ballot marked "challenged ballot" at the top. Challenged ballots are later counted by hand ones the polls close. Refusal to attest to the required oaths will result in the poll official's refusal to allow the person to vote. §§17-12-1 through 8.

Click here to view the Provisional Ballot Instruction Booklet (PDF).

No Loitering Around Polls

No loitering is permitted within 30 feet of the polling place. A person who has voted must immediately withdraw from the polling place, go beyond the 30-foot limit, and not enter the polling place again. §§17-8-29, 17-7-18. No more than 10 voters are allowed in the polling place at the same time. §17-8-29. The only persons who may remain continuously at the polls are the election officials, the sheriff or his deputy, and watchers. §17-7-18.

Write-In Votes

Write-in votes may be cast in general elections for state and county officers, but not in municipal elections. If a voter desires to vote for any person whose name does not appear on the general-election ballot, the voter writes the name in the proper place in the blank column. §§17-8-5, 17-8-20, 11-46-43, 11-46-114.

Write-in votes are also possible on voting machines. When voting machines are used, the voter puts the name of the write-in candidate on the roll of paper providing for this purpose within the machine. Such a vote is known as an "irregular ballot". §17-9-26.

Cross-over Voting

Only Party Members May Vote in Primaries. A person must be a member of the political party whose ballot he or she requests and may vote that party's ballot only. The voter attests to membership in the party by signing the poll list used at primary elections, which contains at its top a statement indicating the voter's preference for that party and that he or she will support its nominees in the ensuing general election. §§ 17-16-14, 17-16-18.

However, the lists of qualified voters are not divided according to party, and no designation of party membership follows the voter's name. Hence, there is no convenient method of establishing party membership in case of doubt. But in no event may a voter cast a vote for candidates in different primaries on the same day. In 1986 the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama held that the Democratic Party rule prohibiting crossover voting in a primary was enforceable and neither violative of the United States Constitution nor the Alabama Constitution. Thus, the Alabama Attorney General in 1986 violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act when, without pre-clearing his actions with the Justice Department, he encouraged citizens who had voted in the state Republican primary to vote in the Democratic Party run-off election in violation of Democratic Party rules prohibiting crossover voting. Henderson v. Graddick, 641 F.Supp 1192(M.D. Ala. 1986).

Voter Turnout

Past Elections


Who Is Eligible to Have Voting Rights Restored Under This Law?

Ex-felons who:

  • have lost their right to vote, and
  • have fulfilled the terms of their sentence (paid all fines, court costs, fees and victim restitution ordered by the sentencing court; has either been released upon completion of sentence, been pardoned, or has successfully completed probation or parole)

Who Is Not Eligible to Have Voting Rights Restored Under This Law?

Even if ex-felons meet the requirements above, they are NOT eligible if they:

  • have criminal felony charges pending, or
  • were convicted of impeachment, treason, murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, incest, sexual torture, enticing a child to enter a vehicle for immoral purposes, soliciting a child by computer, production of obscene matter involving a minor, production or possession of obscene matter, parents or guardians permitting children to engage in obscene matter, or possession with intent to distribute child pornography

When Did This Law Become Effective?

September 25, 2003

How Can Ex-Felons Apply for a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote?

Request an application form from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. After completing the application, return it to The Board of Pardons and Paroles.
The Board of Pardons and Paroles
500 Monroe Street
Montgomery, Al 36130-3019
(334) 242-8700

How Does the Board Review the Application?

  • Board staff must give to the Board all reports and recommendations no later than 45 days from the date an ex-felon applies.
  • The Certificate shall be granted unless a Board member objects to a staff member's recommendation within 5 days.
  • Board members can object only if the ex-felon does not meet the requirements in the law.
  • If ex-felons are denied a Certificate they must be given a reason why.
  • Ex-felons who are denied a Certificate should reapply after they have met the necessary requirements.

Can Voting Rights be Restored to Ex-felons Who Are Not Eligible for a Certificate of Eligibility to Register to Vote?

  • Yes. Request a clemency application form from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. After completing the application, return it to The Board of Pardons and Paroles.
  • Following an investigation and/or hearing, the Board will notify the ex-felon whether or not they have been granted a pardon.

This page was put together using primarily the Code of Alabama (1975), and the Secretary of State Election Handbook Tenth Edition. It is intended to inform users, but is not a substitute for State & Federal Law.