MADISON COUNTY, Ala – Tuesday was a first for many Alabamians. They voted during a pandemic. Polling places took precautions aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, many locations encouraged voters to wear masks.
WHNT News 19 has been made aware of one voting irregularity in Madison County. We were contacted by a viewer who says she and her husband were turned away from their polling place because she was not wearing a mask.
She says this happened early Tuesday afternoon at the Hampton Cove Church of Christ polling place. After the incident she called the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.
Madison County Probate Judge Frank Barger confirms that he was notified and took immediate action to ensure the couple could vote. He says he will review the incident and ensure this does not happen again. He emphasized this was an isolated incident and this did not occur anywhere else in the county on Tuesday.
The viewer told WHNT News 19 they were able to vote Tuesday.
Madison County has issued a masking ordinance, but Secretary of State John Merrill said voters cannot be turned away at the polls if they don’t have a face covering. However, Merrill encouraged people to wear a mask Tuesday citing recommendations from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease doctor, and Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris.
Tuesday morning, WHNT News 19 reporters found signs at polling places in Madison that listed several ‘guidelines’ asking voters to be in ‘compliance’ with. Those signs were removed by Tuesday afternoon. Barger confirmed to WHNT News 19 the county began taking them down at polling places since they implied a mask was required for access. He said it had nothing to do with the incident that occurred in Hampton Cove
Barger said his team went through special training to help keep voters safe. Poll workers wore face shields and masks, the county purchased 150 gallons of sanitizer ahead of election day, and social distancing was being strictly enforced.
“They had lines taped on the ground where you are to stand and wait. There were probably 6 or 8 people working in there. They were all spread apart. They all had on mask and a face shield,” said Amy McKenzie, a Madison County resident who voted at the Madison Library.
Voters in Madison told WHNT News 19 they didn’t think the safety measures increased the wait time to vote. They also noted that the polling places did not seem very busy.