Alabama's most populous county says it's trying to contact voters who received instructions that would invalidate their ballots

The election official in charge of absentee voting in Alabama’s most populous county announced this week that they are working to identify and contact voters who received special ballot instructions that could invalidate their ballots due to a recent court ruling.

Over the span of approximately a week and a half this month, Jefferson County sent voters a form that they could sign that would allow people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 to vote by mail without needing witnesses to sign their ballots. But a federal appeals court reinstated the witness requirement on Oct. 13, invalidating any waivers that voters put in the mail after that date. Voting rights groups expressed concern that the county wasn’t taking steps to alert voters who received the waiver that they could no longer use it, and risked having their ballots rejected if they hadn’t been postmarked by Oct. 13.

On Oct. 26, two days after BuzzFeed News first reported on the waiver issue, Jefferson County published a press release on its website directing voters who had sent in absentee ballots using the witness waiver form on or after Oct. 14 to contact Jackie Anderson Smith, the absentee election manager for the county. The release said the county had a plan for voters to correct “deficiencies” with their ballots, although it didn’t offer details about what that plan involved.

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