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Lawmakers reduce time between primaries and runoffs by 2 weeks

By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News

The time between primary elections and primary runoffs in Alabama will shrink from six weeks to four weeks under a bill that cleared the Alabama Legislature on Thursday.

That means two fewer weeks of campaign advertising and less money spent by candidates, Secretary of State John Merrill said Thursday. 

“We believe that will make most people very happy,” Merrill said. House Bill 247 was a priority for him this year, he said.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Rhett Marques, R-Enterprise, and passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. It now goes to Gov. Kay Ivey for her signature. If it becomes law, it goes into effect immediately, in time for the 2020 election. 

Merrill said it applies to all elections — municipal, county, state and federal. 

The change would mean that when Alabamians vote March 3rd, 2020 in the U.S. Senate primary, runoffs will be March 31, instead of mid-April.

“It will be done within the same month,” Merrill said. 

A fiscal note on the bill says it won’t have any affect on state or local election costs.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, Alabama is one of 10 states that require a candidate to win a primary with a majority of the votes. If that doesn’t happen, the top two vote getters advance to a primary runoff.

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