In Alabama the following terms, when used in relation to elections, usually have the meanings set out below.


Absentee ballot: a ballot used by a qualified absentee voter.


Absentee voter: any qualified elector of Alabama who wishes to cast an absentee ballot who will be absent from the polling place on election day and meets the state’s legal requirements to cast an absentee ballot.


Administrative Procedure Rules: rules adopted by the Secretary of State under rule-making power and filed in the Administrative Procedures Act.


Ballot: the sheet of paper bearing the names of candidates or propositions to be voted upon which is used as the means to vote in an election.


Ballot Clerk: assists the voter in depositing ballots in the precinct ballot counter.


Beat: a popular name for precinct, this geological division of a county is the smallest area for purposes of holding elections.


Booth: a compartment installed at a voting place to insure that no one can see how a voter is marking the ballot.


Canvassing the vote: the process by which the responsible officials total the accumulated returns in order to determine the outcome of an election.


Chief elections official for the state: The Secretary of State.


Chief elections official for the county: The Probate Judge.


Clerk’s Poll List: list of voters written by clerk at the polling place.


County executive committee: a structural unit of a political party, which is recognized by the state executive committee and is given authority over party affairs within its respective county. Members are generally elected from each precinct.


District: many precincts are divided into a voting place or subdivisions of a precinct. Many people call a district the “box.“


Election official: a qualified voter appointed to serve as an officer responsible for conducting the election at a voting place. These may be inspectors or clerks. Election officials for municipal elections are appointed by the municipal governing body. For state and county elections, these officials are selected by an appointing body composed of the probate judge, sheriff, and circuit court clerk.


General election: an election held in November of even-numbered years to allow voters to select officeholders from among the party nominees or independent candidates. There is no run-off in the general election for state and county officers.


HAVA: Help America Vote Act of 2002 passed by Congress requiring states to meet certain minimum standards in voting.


Initial primary: balloting which occurs in presidential election years on the second Tuesday in March or otherwise on the first Tuesday in June to decide which candidates will receive the nominations of their respective parties. In the event a candidate fails to receive the majority of the party’s vote, a run-off is held on the sixth Tuesday, following the initial primary.


Inspector: in general charge of the polling place, serves as official challenger of the votes and as returning officer for the precinct.


Lists of registered voters: prepared from the statewide voter list and published periodically in a newspaper in general circulation in the county. Lists names of all qualified voters and printed alphabetically by precinct and voting place.


Municipal election: an election held by a city or town for the election of municipal officers.


Political party: an organization which at the previous general election for state and county officers cast more than 20 percent of the entire vote cast in any county is a political party in that county, and an organization which at the previous general election for state officers cast more than 20 percent of the entire vote cast in the state for a statewide candidate is a political party for state purposes.


Poll list: a numbered list of voters who have voted in an election at any particular box or polling place.


Poll list clerk: ensures that each voter signs the voters’ poll list, records each voter’s name on the clerk’s poll list, and gives ballots to voters.


Poll Watcher: a person who represents the interests of one candidate or party at a voting place and looks for any irregularities that might be harmful to the candidate or party.


Precinct: the smallest area into which the county is divided for voting purposes.


Precinct Vote Counters: an electronic paper ballot counter that reads and tabulates the votes for candidates.


Presidential preference primary: a primary in which the parties to enable the voters to indicate a preference among the various aspirants for the presidential nomination.


Primary election: an election held to nominate the candidates who will represent a party in the general election.


Provisional ballots: are cast when the individual’s registration cannot be verified or voter ID was not available.


Purge: to remove the names of persons from the voter list in accordance with state law. The board of registrars shall purge the registration list whenever it receives and confirms information that a person registered to vote in that county has died, become a nonresident of the state or county, been declared mentally incompetent, been convicted of any offense mentioned in Section 182 of the Constitution since being registered or otherwise become disqualified as an elector.


Purging: the process by which the registration lists are kept current by removing from the list names of persons who have died, become mentally ill, moved, or who have otherwise become disqualified.


Qualifying fee: a fee that may be established by each party to be paid by candidates for nomination. Such assessments may not be greater than two percent of one year’s salary for the office sought.


Registrar: a qualified voter in the county in which he or she serves, who is appointed as one of three members on the county board of registrars. A registrar has the responsibility of registering voters.


Registration List Clerk: checks off names against the list of registered voters.


Returning officer: an election official, usually the inspector, who has the responsibility of delivering the ballot boxes and election returns to the sheriff, who, as returning officer of the county, delivers the returns to the appropriate officials for totaling and canvassing.


Secret ballot: a ballot that is voted in such a way that only the voter knows how his or her vote was cast.


Special election: an election called at irregular intervals when necessary to fill a vacancy caused by death or resignation, or for some other extraordinary purpose such as voting on a constitutional amendment.


Split ticket: a voter votes a split ticket when the voter votes for candidates of different parties in the general election.


Spoiled ballot: a ballot becomes spoiled and may be exchanged for a new ballot if a voter accidentally marks or defaces the ballot or in some other way spoils or invalidates it.


State executive committee: the governing body of a political party at the state level which is vested with general governing authority over party affairs.


Straight ticket: to vote a straight ticket, the voter votes for every candidate of one party for whatever office nominated.


Update form: voter re-identification form used at the polling place to ensure accurate and up-to-date address.


Voter’s poll list: numbered list that is signed by the voter at the polling place.


Voting center: a polling place using voting machines where a voter may be referred to any voting machine in use at the center, rather than being required to vote at a particular machine devoted to the use of voters whose names appear on a division of the voting list. Special statutory arrangements regulate the operation of voting centers.


Voting Rights Act: federal legislation originally enacted in 1965, which governs election procedures in states subject to its provisions. The act requires that all changes affecting voting be approved by the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia or the Attorney General of the United States.


Voting room: the room provided at each polling place by the county commission of each county, or in the case of a municipal election, the mayor or other chief executive officer for voters to cast their votes. This room is the voting room. When the time arrives for closing the polls, all qualified voters, who are then waiting within the voting room to vote, shall be permitted by the election officers to do so.


Write-in votes: if a voter desires to vote for any person whose name does not appear on the ballot, he or she writes the name in the place provided for this purpose. Not permitted in municipal elections.