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Spring break may interfere with primary elections

Andy McWhorter

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With Alabama’s primary elections only two weeks away, many are planning what decision they’ll be making come March 13.

But with the election falling on a Tuesday in the middle of spring break for the University of Alabama and Tuscaloosa City Schools, many people are expected to cast absentee ballots this year.

Tuscaloosa County Clerk Magaria Bobo warned that casting an absentee ballot isn’t as simple as mailing in your choice for elected official.

“They first of all must be registered to vote in Tuscaloosa County,” Bobo said. “Wherever they’re registered to vote is where they need to register. Request an absentee ballot from the circuit clerk’s office. If they come in person, they need their ID with them. If they’re getting it mailed, they don’t send it in until they vote.”

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is March 2. The deadline to register as an absentee voter is March 8.

While voters do not have to register under a particular political party when registering, a party must be declared to vote in a particular primary. Registered Democrats will vote in the Democratic primary, and registered Republicans will vote in the Republican primary. Voting in one precludes voting in the other.

“The Republican ballots have a lot more on them than the Democratic ballots,” Bobo said.

According to sample ballots, Republican ballots will include a vote for who will be nominated as the presidential candidate, U.S. representative, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama, associate justice of the Supreme Court, president of the Public Service Commission, member of the State Board of Education, member of the Tuscaloosa County Commission and member of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.

Democratic ballots will include a vote for the presidential nominee, the only candidate for which is Barack Obama, U.S. representative and member of Tuscaloosa County Commission.

Voters in different districts will vote for different offices depending on their place of residency. After Alabama’s redistricting late last year, parts of Tuscaloosa County that used to be in Congressional District 6 will now be in Congressional District 4.

Nathan Vrazel, a freshman majoring in history whose district is in Mobile, said he plans to vote using an absentee ballot in the March 13 primary.

“I definitely think [the primary falling during Spring Break will] have a negative effect on those who are in Alabama, but I don’t think it’ll affect out-of-state people that much because they would be using absentee ballots anyways,” he said. “I don’t think it would affect their decision. For people registered in this district, I definitely think it’ll drop.

Bobo stressed that it is essential for a form of ID to be included when registering in order to be included in the process.

“If they come into the office they need to have their ID with them,” Bobo said. “If they’re mailing it in, they need to send in a copy of ID.”

There are many ways to register to vote, including mailing or visiting the Board of Registrars, visiting the library, visiting the tag and license department and visiting the two major parties’ websites.

To register as an absentee voter, visit the county clerk’s office on the second floor of the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse. Detailed instructions can be found online at www.lwval.org/tuscaloosa and looking under “Voting Information.”

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Spring break may interfere with primary elections