News 5 Runoff Election Guide

Alabama News

What's on the ballot? How will voting be different under COVID-19?

Alabama’s runoff election is July 14. Below are answers to the questions you might have about the election.

Who can vote, and in what election?

Since the runoff is an extension of the primary election, registered voters will be asked to choose a Republican ballot or a Democrat ballot. Those who voted in the primary must stay with the party they selected in March.

For example, a voter who participated in the March Democratic primary in order to vote in the presidential race, will not be able to vote in the Republican senate runoff race.

Voters who did not vote in March, or only voted for the constitutional amendment, may choose either party.

Will anything be different at the polls due to COVID-19?

Some smaller voting facilities may have been replaced to allow more social distancing. Registered voters should have received a postcard advising them of any change of polling place. 

Many counties will be using fewer poll workers to lower the likelihood of spreading the virus.  Social distancing will be enforced in all lines. Voting tables will have fewer seats, Therefore, the voting process could take a little longer.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis says poll workers will wear protective masks or face shields, and gloves. Masks will not be required for voters but will be suggested.

What races are on the ballot?

On the Republican ballot will be two big races: U.S. Senate and U.S. House. 

In the Senate race former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville faces former senator and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the March 3 primary, Tuberville received 33.4-percent of the vote to Sessions’ 31.6-percent. Locally though, Mobile native Sessions fared much better, doubling Tuberville’s vote total in Baldwin County and nearly tripling Tuberville’s figure in Mobile County. Sessions held this senate seat for 20 years, 1997-2017. Tuberville has received the endorsement of President Trump.

The winner will face incumbent Democrat Doug Jones in November.

The U.S. House race features Bill Hightower versus Jerry Carl on the Republican side and Kiani Gardner versus James Averhart on the Democratic side. The winners advance to the general election in November. Republicans have held the seat since 1965.

Carl edged Hightower in the March primary, 38.7-percent to 37.5-percent. Carl held an advantage in Mobile County, Hightower in Baldwin County.

Almost three million dollars had been raised by the two candidates, as of June 24. Carl has donated or loaned a significant portion of the $1.7 million his campaign has raised. Hightower’s campaign has raised more than $1.2 million.   

Carl has spent the last eight years on the Mobile County Commission. Hightower served six years as a State Senator representing west and south Mobile County. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 2018.

In the Democratic primary in March, Gardner edged Averhart 44.1-percent to 40.3-percent.

Averhart secured the most votes in Mobile County. Gardner nearly tripled Averhart’s vote total in Baldwin County.

Gardner is a college biology professor. Averhart is a retired U.S. Marine who works in corrections.

There are few other races on the runoff ballot. On the Republican ballot, incumbent Beth Kellum faces former Lauderdale County Commissioner Will Smith for Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, Place 2. 

On the Democratic ballot there is a race for State Board of Education, District 5 between Fred Bell and Tonya Smith Chestnut. That district covers a portion of Mobile County and all of Washington, Clarke, and Monroe Counties.

Democrats living in the Toulminville, Midtown, Maysville, and D.I.P. areas of Mobile will vote in a school board race between Ty Burden and Sherry Dillihay-McDade. The District 4 seat is currently held by Robert Battles who did not run for re-election.

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