Alabama’s top elections official said no voter will be turned away from the polls on November 3, for not wearing a mask.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill says that Alabama’s current statewide mask order specifically excludes polling places and that no one will be prevented from casting a ballot in person if they don’t wear a mask.
“It needs to be understood that nobody is required to wear a mask when they go to vote,” says John Merrill.
John Merrill says there were instances in the July runoff elections in which poll workers tried to tell people to wear a mask. He says it’s not required by law and only a suggestion.
“The Governor suggests they wear a mask, Dr. Harris suggests they wear a mask, the Centers for Disease Control suggests they wear a mask but there’s a difference between a suggestion and what is required by law,” says Merrill.
Merrill says in the Governors the executive order there is an exception that Governor Ivey placed that says the mask order is not necessary in an election setting.
“Wearing a mask is not required by law in order to be a voter in the state of Alabama, period,” says Merrill.
There are funds available to help county election officials obtain things like plexiglass shields, gloves, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and optional face masks to put voters at ease, but those who are not comfortable are encouraged to vote absentee which can be done in person ahead of time, or through the mail.
“Today is the day to go ahead and vote absentee. The ballot is not going to change. The candidates are not going to change. So, go ahead and have your voice heard and your vote counted,” says Merrill.
While other states are offering more ways for people to cast their votes, Merrill says in person or absentee voting is sufficient for Alabamians.
“We do not have drop mailboxes to return ballots. We do not have to have curbside voting. In Alabama, we do not have universal vote by mail. Those are all decisions made by the Alabama legislature. The Alabama legislature has not approved those things. Those things are against the law in the state of Alabama,” says Merrill.
Merrill said any voter who is not allowed to cast a ballot because they are not wearing a mask should call the Secretary of State’s Office at 334-242-7200.