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Ivey moves primary runoff in response to Coronavirus

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday that the primary runoff election will not be held as scheduled on Tuesday, March 31.

Instead, the runoff will be held on July 14, 2020 in hopes that the situation will be resolved by that time.

“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 wellbeing of Alabama citizens is paramount,” Ivey said in a statement on Wednesday. “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. 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.

“Persons who are 65 years or older as well as those with previous heart and lung diseases are more vulnerable to the Coronavirus. Knowing the average age of our faithful poll workers qualifies them to be most at-risk adds the necessity to extend the election runoff date.”

Until Wednesday, Probate Judge Michael Bunn and his team had been diligently preparing for the runoff as if it were to continue on March 31. Bunn said everyone involved with the election will continue to prepare with the new date and still ensure the safety of poll workers and the public.

“Our vendors are still preparing all of our equipment and we are doing all of our normal preparations getting ready,” Bunn said. “We’ll be sending out a postcard to all poll workers letting them know of the change in date. We’ll be making sure our election equipment is disinfected before being placed out at polling stations. We are working with the commission to identify all public polling places to be disinfected beforehand.”

On Tuesday, Attorney General Steve Marshall issued an emergency ruling declaring Governor Ivey had the authority to delay the runoff under the State of Emergency declaration.

“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,” says Attorney General Steve Marshall.  “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”

Upon the governor’s issuance of the amended State of Emergency proclamation rescheduling the Primary Runoff Election to be held on July 14, 2020, the Secretary of State shall give notice and provide the amended Administrative Calendar, via certified mail and email, to all applicable election officials.

“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 John H. 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.”

The Secretary of State is encouraging anyone who is concerned about contracting the virus or spreading the illness may vote by absentee. For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, please contact the Secretary of State’s website.

Absentee ballot applications are available outside the Circuit Clerk’s office at the Pike County Courthouse and residents can call and request applications through the mail at 334-566-5113. The application must be mailed to the circuit clerk’s office with a copy of a valid voter ID. Once ballots arrive, residents can vote absentee outside the circuit clerk’s office.

“Delaying the election to July 14 is not a decision I came to lightly, but one of careful consideration,” Ivey said. “I appreciate the guidance of Attorney General Steve Marshall and Secretary of State John H. Merrill for their collaboration to ensure the continuity of our state government.”