Republican Primary Runoff Election Tuesday, July 14; masks not required

Probate Judge Tammy Brown: Access to courthouse precinct unclear

By: ,
0
589
(Stock photo/Pixabay)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Voters will head to the polls Tuesday, July 14 for the Republican Primary Runoff Election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

Ballot

On Tuesday’s ballot will be:

U.S. Senator

  • Jeff Sessions
  • Tommy Tuberville

Court of Criminal Appeals Judge, Place No. 2

  • Beth Kellum
  • Will Smith

Chairman, Cullman County Commission

  • Jeff “Clem” Clemons
  • Kenneth Walker

 

Masks at voting precincts

In response to questions from concerned citizens, Cullman County Probate Judge Tammy Brown said, based on the U.S. Constitution, voters cannot be turned away from polling places, even if they do not wear masks.

Brown told The Tribune, “Everybody is confused and keeps asking. There’s 50 precincts that will be accounted for on Election Day. So the big question to me has been, over and over, ‘Can we refuse a voter the right to vote if they come into our precinct and they don’t wear a mask?’ No, you cannot.”

The judge shared information she received from the Office of Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill:

Amendment XXIV to the United States Constitution states that citizens shall not be denied the right to vote for failing to pay a poll tax. In the modern age, requiring a citizen to wear a mask before the vote would amount to a poll tax.

ARTICLE VIII, Section 177 (a) of the Constitution of Alabama reinforces the innate right of citizens to vote.

“Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years and has resided in this state and in a county thereof for the time period provided by law, if registered as provided by law, shall have the right to vote in the county of his or her residence.”

Requirements to vote in Alabama are:

  1. Be a U.S. citizen
  2. Reside in Alabama
  3. Be at least eighteen years of age
  4. Have not been convicted of a disqualifying felony (or have had their rights restored)
  5. Have not been declared “mentally incompetent”

 It is therefore clear that state law does not place limits on an individual’s right to vote except as set out above. Requiring a voter to wear a mask cannot be added to the list of Constitutional requirements.

Based on the above, turning a voter away for refusing to wear a mask would not pass a constitutional challenge. A municipal or county ordinance/order likewise cannot override the Constitution.

While it can be “strongly recommended” that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required.

Additionally, space can be set aside to handle voters whose refusal to comply with health precautions may put others in harm’s way.

Said Brown, “If someone comes in that’s evidently or obviously, maybe, coughing or something that you think, ‘Oh, my,’ well then, space can be set aside at that precinct to handle that voter who may refuse to comply with some kind of health precautions, that might put other people around them in harm’s way. But they, too, can’t be denied the right to vote.”

What about the Cullman County Courthouse?

While the state’s official policy prohibits the exclusion of voters who do not wear masks, the Cullman County Courthouse requires masks for entry, raising the question of how unmasked voters will access the polling place located inside the courthouse. Brown told The Tribune she reached out to the Cullman County Commission, but was unable to reach the commissioners.

The Tribune contacted Commissioner Kerry Watson, who said the issue will be addressed at a meeting scheduled for Monday morning.

Precautions for poll workers

Brown said, “The Probate Office Election Department employees, the chief clerk, as well as myself, have provided each precinct with PPE- personal protective equipment- kits to use on Election Day. And during our election school training that was held July 7 and 8 of this week, we strongly recommended that our election workers follow the CDC guidelines when in public places, and they behave in a manner that is respectful to both the election worker and the voter.”

Brown concluded, “I feel like that we have worked and that we have worked diligently to try to get this word out and to try to make our workers aware of this. We hope that we don’t have issues on Election Day, but we’ll just wait and see!”

Voting precincts

Cullman County voters should be aware that the following precincts have moved and/or changed their names in the past year:

Precinct 33 has been moved from the Baldwin Community Center and renamed the Baldwin Family Life Center. The new address is 95 County Road 1153, Cullman, AL 35057.

Precinct 6-2 has been moved from Colony Town Hall to the Colony Education Complex. The new address is 151 Byars Road, Hanceville, AL 35077.

Precinct 1-1 has been moved from the Cullman Civic Center to the Donald E. Green Senior Center. The new address is 1625 Cleveland Ave. SW, Cullman, AL 35055.

Precinct 5 has been moved from Stouts Mountain Baptist Church in the old fellowship hall to Stouts Mountain Baptist Church in the new fellowship hall. The new address is 3773 County Road 522, Hanceville, AL 35077.

Precinct 27 has been moved from the White City Community Center to the Johnson’s Crossing Volunteer Fire Department. The new address is 1544 County Road 617, Hanceville, AL 35077.

Find your polling location at www.sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes.

Remember!

Alabama voters had to declare a party before they cast their ballots in the March 3 Primary Election. Those who voted Democratic are not eligible to vote in the Republican Primary Runoff Election Tuesday, July 14. That rule, the crossover voting rule, only applies to primary elections. In the November general election, both parties will be on your ballot.

Also remember, all Alabama voters are required to show photo identification before voting. Types of IDs accepted are valid driver’s license, valid nondriver ID, valid Alabama photo voter ID, valid state-issued ID, valid federal-issued ID, valid US passport, valid employee ID from federal government, State of Alabama, county, municipality, board or other entity of this state, valid student or employee ID from a public or private college or university in the State of Alabama (including postgraduate technical or professional schools), valid military ID or valid tribal ID.

Find out more, including your polling location, at www.sos.alabama.gov/alabama-votes.

Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

avatar

Wendy Sack

wendy@cullmantribune.com

avatar

W.C. Mann

craig@cullmantribune.com