More than one deadline is coming up for the July 14 Republican primary runoff election.

The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the March runoff but with the November General Election the runoff needs to occur to allow time for the winner of the Republican nomination for U.S. Senator to be put on the ballot with incumbent Doug Jones (D-AL). An Alabama Court of Civil Appeals race is also on the Republican primary runoff ballot.

Locally the pandemic is forcing extra precautions. Tallapoosa County probate Judge Talmadge East said election officials are still planning procedures to allow the least contact and doing everything they can to be proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

“We are still trying to make polling locations as spacious as possible,” East said. “All poll workers will be supplied with masks, hand sanitizer and wipes.”

East said secretary of state John Merrill will not allow forced policies of wearing masks or screening to take place.

“Secretary of state Merrill said it would violate voters’ rights to enforce the wearing of masks,” East said. “We recommend voters wear masks and there won’t be any screenings. People will need to be responsible for their own sanitation. We will be providing for the sanitation of the polling location and poll workers. If voters have symptoms, they are asked to stay home.”

East said social distancing will be encouraged. To help avoid voters picking up objects used by other voters, East said 8,000 pens have been ordered.

“A one-use pen will be issued to each voter to mark their ballot,” East said. “We ask each voter to carry those pens with them from the poll.”

The probate judge’s office in each county is responsible for elections including registering to vote. The deadline to register for the upcoming runoff is Monday.

Voting by absentee ballot is a way for registered voters to avoid contact with the public at polling places. Absentee ballots fall on the circuit clerk’s office in each county and the deadline to request an absentee ballot is July 9. Tallapoosa County circuit clerk Patrick Craddock said interest in absentee ballots is up over previous elections mainly due to the pandemic.

“It’s a good bit higher than normal,” Craddock said.

With the looming deadline, Craddock a few things will make the request process move more smoothly.

“The easiest thing is get the requests in as soon as possible,” Craddock said.

Craddock said most forms of government identification such as a drivers license are acceptable to use for requesting an absentee ballot but voters must first request an application.

“They can call and we will mail an application,” Craddock said. “They can also print an application from the Alabama Secretary of State’s website and mail it to us.”

Once the application is approved a ballot is mailed to the voter who has until July 14 to either mail or drop the ballot off at the circuit clerk’s office.

Craddock it might be easier for some voters who wish to vote absentee to visit the circuit clerk’s office at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse.

“By coming to the office and requesting an application, voters can fill it out right there,” Craddock said. “For most, there is no issue and we can issue an absentee ballot right then; they can mark it, leave and be done.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.