John Merrill requests emergency opinion from AG’s office to postpone runoff election

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[Photo Credit: Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press]

Following the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the State of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has requested an emergency opinion from the Attorney General’s Office related to the possible postponement of the March 31 runoff election given the fact that President Donald Trump has declared a National Emergency and Gov. Kay Ivey has declared a State of Emergency.

Merrill’s request seeks to keep Alabamians safe from the potential spread of the virus. He has asked whether, under the emergency powers granted to the Governor under Section 31-9-1 et seq. Ala. Code, the Governor has the authority to postpone the election.

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. 

According to Merrill’s office, “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.”

Since absentee ballots have yet to be mailed out, Merrill’s office confirms that votes in the runoff election would not be affected.