Voters encouraged to register early

By NICOLE LOGGINS / Staff Writer

Carol Hill, chairperson of the Shelby County Board of Registrars, is encouraging eligible individuals to register to vote well in advance of the upcoming elections.

“The deadline is March 2 so they need to be registered by then,” Hill said.

According to Hill, the easiest way to register is to go to Shelbyal.com.

“They can fill it out, print it, sign it and get it to us,” she said.

Voters can also obtain forms at the Board of Registrars office in the Butch Ellis Building and at any driver’s license office or library in Shelby County.

The primary elections for Alabama are on March 13. Nine County Commission positions, Probate Judge, Circuit Clerk, two circuit judges and two Board of Education places will be decided in the primary along with various national elections.

The general election will be held on Nov. 6. According to Hill, voters must be registered 10 days prior to an election, making Oct. 26 the registration deadline for the general election.

“If they are a registered voter they can show up at the poll and they are on the list,” Hill said. “Sometimes the records are purged for inactivity.”

When the county sends identification cards and they are returned with no information they can be marked inactive, according to Hill.

“If it’s found that they are inactive they can still fill out a form and update their info and vote,” she said.

Hill’s advice for voters is to register well in advance of the elections.

“They need to go ahead and get registered and not wait until the last minute. It’s a hardship on our office, when they come in three days prior and don’t know about the deadline,” she said.

The biggest misconception voters have, according to Hill, is the idea that they have to re-register before every election.

“Voters do not have to register before every election, that’s a misconception,” she said.

To help educate and encourage young adults to register the Board of Registrars have visited local schools to register 18-year-old students are pre-register students who will turn 18 by election time.

“Between the first three schools we had almost 300 and at Pelham we had close to 300 just there,” she said.

629 students between the ages of 17 and 18 have been registered to vote since Jan. 10 according to the Board of Registrars office.

“We can go ahead and register them and if they turn 18 before Nov. 6 we turn them over to be active on their birthdays,” Hill said. “We work in cooperation with the government teachers and employees in schools.”

Mary Harris, the Shelby County Circuit Clerk, handles absentee voting and advises any person that wishes to vote absentee start the process early.

“We start the voting 45 days before the election and we have a good many people who wait until the last week, and that’s too late to handle by mail,” Harris said. “Then we have people driving from all over the county to vote in person.”

According to the Board of Registrars website, individuals eligible to vote must be United States citizens, residents of Alabama, at least 18-years-old, not barred from voting as a result of a felony conviction, not judged “mentally incompetent” in a court of law and for municipal elections, the voter must be a resident of the city for 30 days prior to the election.

Any voters who are unsure about their voting status are encouraged to call 669-3913 for more information.