Curbside voting in Madison County could become reality in upcoming runoff election

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – The Madison County Probate Judge said he, the sheriff, and the circuit clerk are working to determine if any changes will be made to the protocol already developed for the July 14 runoff election.

This comes after the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request from Alabama to stay a preliminary injunction issued earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Abdul K. Kallon. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by several voters who are older or have health risks. As a result, the ruling will allow relaxed absentee voting requirements in Jefferson, Mobile and Lee counties. It will also allow local election officials in every county to offer curbside voting at in-person polling locations.

Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger said he’ll have a decision by next week.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is listed as a defendant in the lawsuit. He says although the emergency stay was denied — the case is still under review and the state’s appeal is still under consideration.

The recent ruling will only pertain to the runoff election.

“The preliminary injunction entered June 15, 2020 by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama is in full force and effect as it relates to the July 14 Primary Runoff Election,” Merrill explained.

But with the uncertainty of the longevity of the COVID-19 pandemic, some are wondering why the ruling wont apply to the General Election in November as well.

Nonetheless, the Alabama NAACP, which is a plaintiff in the case, said allowing the two changes is a small victory that could make a big difference in the future as the virus continues to spread.

“It’s increasing not only here but across the country. So if you do curbside voting, you’ll be able to have your ballot dropped in some kind of container, and then go on about your business,” explained Benard Simelton, President of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP. “Much like you would if you were driving up to get tested for the coronavirus. So this will be another opportunity to help increase voter turnout.’

Simelton said he hopes down the line the state will honor the ideas from this ruling not just in three counties, but statewide.

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