Ivey postpones Alabama’s primary runoff to July 14 due to coronavirus pandemic
MONTGOMERY — In a closed access press conference on Wednesday, Governor Kay Ivey announced that Alabama’s primary runoff will be postponed from March 31 to July 14 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
This came after an emergency opinion from Attorney General Steve Marshall the previous evening ruling that Ivey had the legal power to do so under the currently declared State of Emergency.
Secretary of State John Merrill had requested that emergency opinion and supported the postponement of the runoff. Local election administrators across the state had also voiced their support for the postponement.
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“Exercising my extraordinary powers under the Emergency Management Act, I am setting Alabama’s Primary Runoff Election for July 14, 2020,” Ivey explained in a statement. “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.
“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,” she added. “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.”
Ivey concluded, “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.”
Marshall and Merrill joined Ivey on Wednesday at the closed press conference while practicing social distancing, staying several feet away from each other.
“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,” Marshall reiterated. “Accordingly, she also has the lawful ability to postpone a primary runoff election to protect public health and safety during the state of emergency.”
Ivey on Wednesday issued an amended State of Emergency to accommodate the postponement. The secretary of state will soon 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,” Merrill commented. “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.”
Contests on the ballot for the primary runoff include Alabama’s Republican U.S. Senate race between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville. There is also a GOP congressional primary in both AL-01 (between Jerry Carl and Bill Hightower) and AL-02 (between Jeff Coleman and Barry Moore).
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn