As the United States continues to battle with the novel coronavirus, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is pushing to have the March 31 runoff elections in the state postponed.
According to the Montgomery Advertiser, Merrill released a statement on Sunday night acknowledging that he had sought an emergency opinion from Attorney General Steve Marshall on if Gov. Kay Ivey’s declaration of a state of emergency, due to viral virus, allowed her the authority to delay the elections.
“The health and well-being of the people of this state are of paramount importance,” the statement read. “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.”
Currently, there is nothing in Alabama state law or constitution that allows for the rescheduling of elections, the Advertiser notes. Merrill is seeking clarification on Ivey’s powers under the 1955 Alabama Emergency Management Act, which Ivey cited in her emergency proclamation on Friday, although there is no specific mention of elections in the Act.
“I don’t have the authority and the governor does not have the authority, explicit authority, to postpone the election,” Merrill said, according to AL.com. “So, with the new information that was introduced today by the governor about the outbreak and the steps that she’s taking with state employees, I felt it was important we get a better interpretation about what the potential might be in order to have that exercised for that reason.”