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Officials say Alabamians cannot be required to wear a mask in order to vote

Secretary of State John Merrill on Friday released guidance from his office and Attorney General Steve Marshall saying face masks cannot be a requirement in order to vote in Alabama’s July 14 primary runoff election.

A release from Merrill’s office outlined that the secretary of state has received numerous inquiries from county and city officials questioning the legal authority to require or not require voters to wear masks. Various localities in the state have enacted general mask ordinances recently.

In public response to those inquiries, Merrill confirmed that state law does not place limits on an individual’s right to vote, citing Article III, Section 177(a) of the Constitution of Alabama, which reinforces the inherent right of eligible citizens to vote.

Additionally, Merrill’s office advised that a notice from the attorney general’s office dated June 30 declared, “Though the Attorney General strongly recommends that voters and poll workers follow CDC guidelines when in public places and behave in a manner that is respectful of poll workers and fellow voters, it is clear that state law does not allow for an individual’s qualification to vote to be contingent upon the wearing of a mask or face covering, respecting social distancing, using gloves, or having a temperature in a normal range.”

Merrill stressed the bottomline.

“While it can be ‘strongly recommended’ that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required,” he stated. “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.”

You can view CDC guidance for voters and election polling places here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn