Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced Wednesday the Senate runoff election is postponed until July 14.
"Through executive authority given to me through the state of emergency declaration that Alabama's primary election will be held July 14, 2020," she said at a news conference in Montgomery.
Tommy Tuberville and Jeff Sessions are facing each other in the GOP primary runoff. Republicans and Democrats also have runoffs for the U.S. House of Representatives seat currently held by Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope).
The election is being delayed because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Ivey said she made the decision after consulting with Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall.
Marshall’s office issued an opinion on Tuesday that the governor had the authority to postpone the voting.
“Y’all, this is not a decision I came to lightly,” Ivey said.
Marshall backed the governor.
“That decision that she’s just announced is not only appropriate, but it is clearly in the best interest of the public health and safety of all Alabamians,” he said. “I think it is the interest of all three of us standing here today, to ensure that no Alabamians – especially our elderly population – has to make the choice between their constitutional right to vote, and their own personal health and safety.”
Merrill said that people who feel their health is at risk can vote via absentee ballot and mark the box for people concerned they have an illness or infirmity.
Ivey also encouraged voters to vote via absentee ballot.
“I think it’s a very wise decision to asked for an absentee ballot and proceed with that,” she said.
Alabama is not among the states that allow citizens to cast absentee ballots for any reason. Ivey told reporters that she does not favor changing that law.
“I think you need to have a good reason to vote absentee, but surely in this case” a valid reason exists, she said.
A bill that would have explicitly recognized that authority failed in the Legislature last year. It has been reintroduced for the current session.
Staff Reporter Brendan Kirby contributed to this report.