Merrill issues guidance for July 14 primary runoff
Following Governor Kay Ivey’s announcement on Wednesday morning that Alabama’s primary runoff will be postponed from March 31 to July 14, Secretary of State John Merrill issued a statement explaining the new public timeline for the runoff, including registration and absentee ballot deadlines.
Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall joined Ivey for a closed access press conference announcing the postponement.
This came after an emergency opinion from Marshall the previous evening ruling that Ivey had the legal power to do so under the currently declared State of Emergency. 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.
In a statement after the Wednesday press conference, Merrill said, “When I took office as Alabama’s 53rd Secretary of State, I set out to ensure a free and fair elections process for the people of Alabama. First and foremost, however, the safety and well-being of every single Alabamian is my top priority.”
“The guidelines prescribed by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the Alabama Department of Public Health have made it clear that it is no longer advisable for the people of Alabama to go to the polls to vote on March 31,” he advised.
“The opportunity to participate in the electoral process and have one’s voice heard at the polls is one that we will continue to protect and advocate for,” Merrill stated. “In postponing the March 31 Runoff Election to July 14, we are continuing Alabama’s practice of providing free and fair elections that do not compromise the safety and health of our voters, poll workers, and anyone else who may be involved with the elections process.”
The secretary of state continued, “This new date will allow for the electoral process to continue in a normal manner. This delay will allow all local election officials the time to assess and evaluate the changes that must be made to ensure the Runoff Election is administered according to plan.”
Merrill detailed that eligible Alabamians may continue to register to vote for the primary runoff until June 29.
Additionally, absentee ballot applications that have already been successfully submitted will still be valid for the July 14 runoff. Those looking to check on the status of your application should contact their local absentee election manager.
All absentee ballot applications must now be received by the close of business on July 9.
If delivered by hand, completed absentee ballots must be received by the respective absentee election manager by the close of business on July 13. If returning by mail, the last day to postmark an absentee ballot is also July 13.
Voters eligible to vote pursuant to the Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act will have until July 14 to postmark an absentee ballot.
Comprehensive election information can be found on the Alabama secretary of state’s website here.
Merrill concluded, “I am grateful to Governor Ivey and General Marshall for their proactive leadership, sincere dedication, and spirit of teamwork that we have seen displayed during these trying times to ensure we are providing 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