MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Both Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Attorney General Steve Marshall have notified county election officials against requiring the use of masks during the upcoming voting process.
Merrill’s office says there have been “numerous inquiries from county and city officials” related to the legality of requiring masks during the July 14 Primary Runoff Election and, pointing to the state constitution, says state law doesn’t put limits on a person’s right to vote.
However, the notice conflicts with several municipal orders that require face masks when in public, including in cities like Birmingham, Montgomery, Selma, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile.
Both Merrill and Marshall said use of a face mask is strongly recommended, but the AG agreed the use of one can’t be a qualification for whether a person is allowed to cast their ballot.
In a letter from June 30, Marshall urged voters and poll workers to follow CDC guidelines, but said “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.”
Nearly half of all states now require the use of a mask while in public, but Gov. Kay Ivey has stated on multiple occasions that she doesn’t think such an order would be enforceable and is instead making only a strong request that they be used.
Alabama’s rate of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to set records on a near daily basis, according to data from the Alabama Department of Public Health.