Gov. Kay Ivey this week ordered the Republican and Democratic primary runoff elections be postponed from March 31 to July 14 in wake of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“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. “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.”
Ivey noted many poll workers are older Alabamians who are most vulnerable to serious complications from the virus.
“Delaying the election to July 14 is not a decision I came to lightly, but one of careful consideration. 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,” Ivey added.
On Tuesday, Marshall issued an emergency ruling declaring 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,” he said. “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”
Merrill expressed gratitude for the actions of Ivey and Marshall.
“I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork displayed during these trying times,” he said. “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.”
Merrill is encouraging anyone who is concerned about contracting the virus or spreading the illness to vote by absentee. For information regarding voter registration, locating a polling place, or how to obtain an absentee ballot, visit sos.alabama.gov.