On Nov. 8, voters across the nation will decide who becomes the next president of the United States and local Alabama voters will choose a senator, congressmen, other state offices and decide 14 new state constitutional amendments.
But to vote, you have to be registered and that deadline is quickly approaching.
The deadline to register to vote in the state of Alabama is Oct. 24, and Lee County Registrar Ann Bennett said the county has seen an intense spike in voter registration.
"We have been working nights, weekends," Bennett said. "We have brought in extra employees. We have truly seen a spike in registration."
Though she didn't have exact numbers, Bennett said the spike was "significant."
"This is significantly more than the number of registrations than we have had before," she said.
That increase is due in part to more voters reregistering even though they were already on the rolls to begin with, she said. Voters do not have to reregister for every election if they've voted recently.
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"If you've been voting, you are registered," Bennett said. "If you've voted at any time within the last eight years, you're registered. There are all sorts of places where people may register too and may not even be aware."
If you're unsure of your status, you can visit the Secretary of State's website at www.alabamavotes.gov and check your registration. Online registration is now available on the website as well, which Bennett recommends because it is much faster to process.
The online applications can be processed about four times faster than the traditional paper applications with far fewer errors.
Despite the spike in registrations and a backlog in entering those into the system, Bennett promised the Board of Registrars will get it done before the election in November.
"We are going to work overtime and do whatever it takes to get it done," Bennett said. "If people will be patient with us, we will get this done. I want to assure the students, the public and everyone that we will get this done."
Two additional clerks were hired to make up for lost time and the state issued each registrar a take-home computer so they can work from home to register voters. Before they had the computers, they were having to sit at the courthouse until the late hours of the night.
The student population at Auburn University is another contributing factor to the spike. Over the past month, the Auburn SGA has conducted a large voter registration drive to get more students involved in the election.
"Voter drives are definitely spiking the registrations," Bennett said. "Auburn University normally does voter registration drives, but I think students may be being pushed to vote more this year. They're getting people to vote."
Passion about the importance of the upcoming election was another contributing factor in the spike, Bennett said.
"There is a whole lot of intensity about this election," she said. "People are talking about 'these are the two candidates with the most negatives of anybody.' Well, those who are wanting to vote for their candidates are very passionate about it."
Tips and reminders:
- Check your registration on alabamavotes.gov before you register. You could already be registered.
- Make sure you include your apartment, lot or house number on the registration application.
- If you live on a Lee or Macon County Road, spell out r-o-a-d on your application. Don't use the Rd. abbreviation. It will be kicked out of the system.
- If you're a full-time Auburn student who lives in Auburn, you can register as an Auburn resident or vote absentee from your permanent home address.
- If you received a letter about an incomplete address, make sure you respond quickly.
- If you've registered, you will receive a voter registration card in the mail, but it could take some time.
- Register online, if possible.
- The registration deadline is Oct. 24.
Know before you go to speed up voting. Preview the official Lee County ballot:
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