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Alabama primary runoff election delayed as COVID-19 precaution

(WTOK)
Published: Mar. 18, 2020 at 1:15 PM CDT
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Gov. Kay Ivey is using powers granted to her under the Alabama Emergency Management Act of 1955 to postpone the state’s upcoming primary runoff elections.

“The ability to hold free and fair elections is an inherent right as citizens of the United States and the great state of Alabama, but the safety and well-being of Alabama citizens is paramount," she said.

The elections, which were set to take place on March 31, are being pushed back to July 14.

The decision, which Ivey said she did not come to lightly, was made as the state and local communities look to stem the spread of a COVID-19 pandemic.

For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, please contact the Secretary of State’s website.

Ivey indicated she did not want people standing in line to vote, where close contact could possibly spreading the illness.

“Our State Health Officer, Dr. Scott Harris, is recommending that we should practice social distancing and refrain from public gatherings of more than 25 individuals," Ivey explained. “Maintaining a 6-foot distance between one another is paramount. This guidance alone would be making an election day a hotbed for spreading the virus.”

Ivey was particularly concerned for poll workers, whom she noted are generally older or retired, and who at greater risk of illness or death from the virus.

Ivey’s decision came after Secretary of State John Merrill asked the attorney general’s office for an emergency legal opinion about the possibility of postponing the runoff election because of coronavirus.

“Governor Ivey has the legal authority under the Alabama Emergency Management Act to declare a state of emergency as a result of the current pandemic,” AG Steve Marshall confirmed. “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”

For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, please contact the Secretary of State’s website.

“I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork displayed during these trying times,” said Secretary of State Merrill. “It is critical that we provide a safe and secure environment for all 3,585,209 voters in the State of Alabama to participate in the electoral process.”

You can contact the ADPH COVID-19 hotline to find out about testing locations and options in your area. That number is 1-888-264-2256.

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