Alabama's March 31 runoff could be postponed because of COVID-19 but there's an issue. State law may not allow that it to be delayed.
“Currently, neither the Code of Alabama nor the Constitution of the State of Alabama allow for the suspension, delay, or postponement of an election once the date has been set,” Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said Sunday in a written statement.
He is asking Attorney General Steve Marshall to issue an emergency opinion on the matter.
“The health and well-being of the people of this state are of paramount importance. In order to effectively practice social distancing, as recommended by the President of the United States, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the Alabama Department of Public Health, etc., the March 31 Runoff Election must be postponed,” Merrill said.
In southeast Alabama, major runoffs are for Republican nominations. In the Second District Congressional race Jeff Coleman is opposed by Barry Moore. For United State Senator, a statewide race, voters will choose between Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville.
Merrill believes emergency procedures should not have become an issue. In 2019, our office asked the Legislature to give the Governor the explicit power to be able to take prescribed action through means that would be codified. Our attempt was unsuccessful.
He plans to ask the current session of the legislature to address the matter. Senator Donnie Chesteen and Representative David Standridge will introduce bills in the Senate and House, respectively.