Alabama Officials Say Masks “Cannot Be Required” At Polls
COVID-19 is still very much real, and with the July 14th Primary Runoff Election right around the corner, many are wondering if face masks will be required at the polls. Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall are warning counties against requiring masks at the polls on election day. In a press release, they recommended face masks for voters but stated that "it cannot be required." Merrill also added, “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.” I love how he's so passionate about protecting voter rights in Alabama. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that our rights are protected and we vote.
Friday, July 10, 2020 – MONTGOMERY – Ahead of the July 14 Primary Runoff Election, Secretary of State John H. Merrill, in addition to Attorney General Steve Marshall, have provided guidance to county election officials regarding the requirement of masks to be worn on Election Day.
After receiving numerous inquiries from county and city officials questioning the legal authority to require or not require voters to wear masks, Secretary 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 innate right of citizens to vote.
A notice from the Attorney General’s Office dated June 30, 2020 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.”
Since taking office, Secretary of State John H. Merrill has made voter registration and voter participation a top priority seeing that anyone who is eligible is registered to vote and has a photo ID. He has worked to boost participation in elections, shattering state records in the last several elections.
“While it can be ‘strongly recommended’ that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required,” Merrill concluded in his letter. “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.”