Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

Clerk says ballots proceed as normal

Fountain has not received mandate in wake of court ruling; absentee deadline is July 9


June 18, 2020

Although a federal judge has ruled in favor of plaintiffs who claim that some of Alabama's voting restrictions will create difficulties and risks created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Escambia County Circuit Clerk John Robert Fountain said he's received no new guidelines that have set July 9 as the last day to apply for an absentee ballot for the July 14 runoffs.

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon of the Northern District of Alabama granted part of a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed May 1 by groups and individuals that include People First of Alabama, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP and the Greater Birmingham Ministries.

In his ruling, Judge Kallon noted the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 due to some people's ages, medical conditions or disabilities.

It was unclear if the ruling applied statewide or to just Jefferson, Mobile and Lee counties.

Fountain said Tuesday he has received no instructions from Secretary of State John Merrill to alter current plans on absentee voting.

Fountain said July 9 is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot and those ballots must be returned to his office by 11 a.m. July 14. Ballots mailed to his office must be postmarked by July 13.

Fountain also said absentee ballots brought to his office inside the Escambia County Courthouse in Brewton must be delivered by the person voting.

"I have not gotten a directive from the secretary of state's office," Fountain said in wake of the federal judge's ruling. "We are operating under regular rules."

On the absentee ballot application, identifications are required with the exception of box three which states 'I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls. I am unable to access my assigned polling place due to a neurological, musculoskeletal, respiratory (including speech organs), cardiovascular, or other life-altering disorder that affects my ability to perform manual tasks, stand for any length of time, walk unassisted, see, hear or speak and: I am an elderly voter aged 65 or older or I am a voter with a disability'.

As of Tuesday, Fountain said he had given out 91 Republican applications and 40 Democratic applications. He had a total of 74 ballots returned to his office.

In Escambia County there will be two races on the Republican ticket and one on the Democratic ticket. On the Republican ballot, Jeff Sessions and Tommy Tuberville will square off for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. The winner will face Democrat Sen. Doug Jones in November.

Republicans will also choose between Jerry Carl and Bill Hightower for the party's nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives First Congressional District. The winner will face the Democratic nominee in November.

On the Democratic ballot, James Averhart and Kiani A. Gardner are seeking the nomination to challenge either Carl or Hightower in November.

Under Alabama election laws, if someone voted in the Republican Primary they can only vote in the Republican runoff and vice versa if someone voted in the Democratic Primary they can only vote in the Democratic runoff.

If a person did not vote in the primary elections they can vote in either the Republican or Democratic runoff.


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