Large stacks of absentee ballots, regular ballots and other election paperwork are stacking up in Cleburne County Circuit Clerk Warren Sarrell’s office in preparation for a special election for the U.S. Senate. The election will decide the next senator from Alabama. The seat was vacated by Sen. Jeff Sessions, who left to become the 84th Attorney General of the United States.

According to Sarrell three things must be done to insure a smooth election:

— Poll workers must be mobilized.

— Absentee ballot applications must be processed.

— All the voting machines must be tested.

The primary election will be Aug. 15 and a runoff, if needed, will be Sept. 26 and the general election will be Dec. 12.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Cleburne County Probate Judge Ryan Robertson said that the Senate race will be the only item on the ballots so voting should not take long. About 56 poll workers will be needed to staff the 14 polling stations throughout the county, according to Robertson.

Information from Sarrell listed several key dates in the process:

— Monday, July 31: The last day to register to vote in the primary.

— Thursday, Aug. 10: The last day to make absentee ballot applications for the primary.  

— Monday, Sept. 11: The last day to register to vote in the primary runoff election.

— Thursday, Sept. 21: The last day to make absentee ballot applications.

— Monday, Nov. 27: The last day to register to vote in the general election.

— Thursday, Dec. 7: The last day to make absentee ballot applications for the general election.

Sarrell also said the state’s new crossover voting law will be in effect. This law prohibits voters from casting a ballot for one party in a primary and then crossing over to vote in another party’s runoff election.

That means, for example, a voter can’t vote in the Republican primary and the Democratic runoff or vice versa.

Independents can still vote in the primary, but must pick a party during the primary and can only vote in that party’s runoff.

A voter who doesn’t vote in either party’s primary election is free to vote in the runoff if they choose.

A voter can vote for whomever they wish during the general election, no matter which candidate or party they supported in the primary or primary runoff.