Voters must show ID

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 8, 2003

Changes are in the works this Sept. 9, and we’re not just talking taxes.

Sept. 9 will be the first time in Alabama voters must present identification in a statewide election. It will also be the first time polling hours are uniform across the state.

According to Synethia Pettaway, chairwoman for the Dallas County Board of Registrars, polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. In the past, polls in the county ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., but a recently passed law brings the state into line with a federal mandate.

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The Help America Vote Act was passed last year. It requires a number of changes, including uniform polling hours. Alabama House of Representatives Bill 419 was enacted to implement the federal mandate, Pettaway said.

Larger cities and counties with high populations have had longer polling hours previous to next week’s vote, but this will be the first time Selma and Dallas County residents have a 12-hour period to cast their ballot.

But even if some residents have an especially long workday this coming Tuesday, they still have the chance to vote. Pettaway said a law requires employers to let their employees take time off from work to vote.

Polling hours aren’t the only changes voters will see this Tuesday. Before casting a vote, citizens must present identification to poll officials. Pettaway said Alabama Secretary of State Nancy L. Worley received several questions about what forms of identification were valid, which led to the release of a letter detailing valid forms.

Pettaway said a Social Security card is one of the best forms of identification to use, but it is by no means the only one. Voters only have to show one form of identification and it doesn’t need to have a photo.

If voters don’t have valid identification, they may cast a challenge or provisional ballot or have two poll workers identify them. A challenge ballot is counted, but could be called into question and investigated if the election is contested.

Valid forms of identification include a driver’s license, employee card, student ID, utility bill, bank statement, Social Security card or check, veterans check, paycheck, Medicare or Medicaid card, hunting or fishing license, gun permit, EBT card, U.S. passport, military ID, birth certificate, naturalization document, adoption record, name change record, or other governmental document.