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Auburn gameday adjusts to COVID-19

Brandon Moseley

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Auburn football vs Georgia South on Saturday, September 2, 2017 in Auburn, Ala. (Via Wade Rackley/Auburn Athletics)

Auburn University will play its first college football game on Saturday. Fans will be in attendance but the game day experience will see a number of changes to mitigate the COVID-19 threat.

Only 20 percent of the capacity of Jordan-Hare Stadium, about 17,000 fans will be on hand, mostly Auburn students, to watch Auburn play Kentucky for their season opener.

The Auburn Athletics Department on Thursday announced that in collaboration with Auburn University, the Southeastern Conference and state and local public health guidance, several safety measures have been implemented for the 2020 football season.

The Athletics Department said that these policies and procedures are designed to create a safe and healthy environment while maintaining Auburn’s renowned game day experience.

“Everyone who enters Jordan-Hare Stadium this fall will participate in a shared responsibility for the health and safety of our campus community,” athletic director Allen Greene said. “We’re counting on all attendees to do their part by practicing physical distancing, personal hygiene and wearing face coverings. Adherence to these guidelines will lead to the safest possible gameday for everyone.”

Fans are asked to review the following guidelines regarding game day at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

As announced on Aug. 19, under the direction of state health officials, Jordan-Hare Stadium capacity will be reduced to 20 percent to begin the 2020 football season.

Public Service Announcement

In an effort to contribute to the on-campus experience of our current students, all general seating tickets outside controlled premium spaces and those designated for home and visiting team players and coach guests will be reserved for Auburn students.

The ticket allocations for future games will be announced at a later date. As the season progresses, the seating plan and configuration may change as additional information related to COVID-19 becomes available.

Handicap accessible parking for non-Tigers Unlimited donors will be located in the East Coliseum parking lot. Golf cart shuttles will be available from the East Coliseum handicap lot.

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In accordance with the CDC and state and local guidelines, tailgating will not be permitted on campus for the 2020 football season, including Tailgate Guys turnkey tailgating packages. No RVs will be allowed on campus for the 2020 season. RVs found on campus are subject to a ticket or tow. The Tiger Transit shuttles will not be operational for the 2020 season.

Student locations are general admission and first-come, first-served, but students are asked to sit in the designated sections listed on their game ticket. Students will also receive an email communication during the week of the game that identifies their assigned zone.

For the Kentucky game, students should only sit in the orange chairbacks. Blue chairbacks are for home team and visiting player guests.

Physical distance signage and markings will be placed at all entry gates. Walk-through metal detectors will be operational for the 2020 season. Students will be required to show a green screen from the GuideSafe app before entering the metal detectors.

Public (non-student) ticket holders and working staff will have their temperature read prior to entering the stadium.

The clear bag policy will remain in effect for the 2020 football season and ticket holders are encouraged to bring as few items as needed into the stadium. Bags must be clear plastic and not exceed 12″x 6″ x 12.” One-gallon clear resealable plastic storage bags and small clutch purses not exceeding 4.5″ x 6.5″ may be permitted in the stadium.

Individual hand sanitizer bottles not exceeding 3.4 ounces and disinfecting wipes will be permitted into the stadium.

Non-prohibited item check stations on the exterior of JHS have been eliminated for the 2020 season. All prohibited items will have to be disposed of or returned to vehicles before entry into the stadium.

Enhanced cleaning and sanitization procedures throughout the stadium prior to and during all games will be in effect for the 2020 season. All cleaning and disinfection products have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency or the Centers for Disease Control for disinfection of COVID-19.

180 hand sanitizer stations will be strategically placed in restrooms, elevators and throughout Jordan-Hare Stadium. All athletics department workspaces will be supplied with hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and wipes to clean game day workspaces frequently.

The “AU Clean Team” will regularly disinfect all high-touch surfaces in all common areas, including entry gates, restrooms, point-of-sale locations, concessions counters, elevators and handrails, among other high-touch surfaces. AU Clean Team staff will be assigned to each public restroom in the stadium.

Fans are required to wear face coverings (over both the nose and mouth) while in the stadium. Stadium workers and athletics staff will wear face coverings at all times.

Directional signage, stanchions, and barriers will be installed to facilitate six-foot physical distance at entry gates, concourse pathways, concessions and merchandise queues and seating areas.

The event staff will assist in directing ticket holders through appropriate routes to seating areas, concession stands and restrooms. Seating arrangements will provide for physical distance. Ticketed seats will be pre-marked with an Auburn Athletics provided chairback. Empty bleacher seats between pre-marked seats will not be available for seating. Blocked rows will be marked with tape and not available for seating but will be used as a means of ingress/egress in and out of the section.

Physical distancing will be maintained throughout the facility to the fullest extent possible, including limiting field access in accordance with SEC and NCAA recommendations.

Jordan-Hare Stadium will provide for contactless transactions, including touchless walk-through metal detectors, digital ticketing, digital scanning of tickets at entry gates and self-swiping of credit cards at concessions and merchandise outlets. All transactions for concessions and merchandise locations at JHS will be contactless and cashless (credit cards only).

The Auburn University Athletics Ticket Office announced mobile-only ticketing, enabling contactless entry into all venues beginning with the 2020 football season. The Athletics Department said that the shift to mobile-only ticketing provides a safer environment for fans, and guards against the production of fraudulent tickets.

Auburn Athletic Ticket Office personnel will be located at the Auburn Arena Ticket Office and the West, Northeast, and Southeast ticket windows at Jordan-Hare Stadium to assist ticket holders. Ticket purchasers will receive their tickets via email, allowing for download to Apple Wallet (iPhone) or Google Pay Wallet (Android). Prior to reaching the gates, fans will simply open their digital wallet.

For more information visit AuburnTigers.com/gameday

Many people as late as mid-August thought the 2020 season would not be played. Several conferences, including the PAC 12, are not playing football this year citing fears of the coronavirus global pandemic, The SEC will play a ten game conference only schedule starting Saturday, with the SEC Championship game scheduled for December 19.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Elections

Trump to visit Pensacola tonight

Trump is making a push in Florida in the final weeks of the election, and Northwest Florida is part of his strategy.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention

Neither presidential candidate is likely to visit Alabama before the general election, as both campaigns accept that Alabama will be certainly in President Donald Trump’s camp on election day no matter what else happens. While Alabama is not a swing state, Georgia and Florida are both in play, and both campaigns are devoting enormous resources there.

Trump is making a push in Florida in the final weeks of the election, and Northwest Florida is part of his strategy. Trump will be just across the Florida-Alabama state line visiting Pensacola and is scheduled to address supporters at the ST Engineering hangar beginning at 7 p.m. CT.

The doors open at 4 p.m. and the event begins at 7:00 p.m.

The president’s rally tonight comes right after a visit to Pensacola last week by Second Lady Karen Pence and is one of many Florida campaign events planned for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump arrived in Florida after Thursday’s final presidential debate with Joe Biden. He is scheduled to hold a campaign event in The Villages before traveling to Pensacola. The president will spend the night at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago and will vote early Saturday.

The vice president will hold rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee on Saturday. Florida has 27 electoral college votes. It would be very difficult for Trump to get the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win without winning Florida.

Democrats warn that attending a Trump rally could be dangerous due to the coronavirus threat.

Public Service Announcement

“The last thing Floridians need is for Donald Trump to host more potential superspreader rallies across our state,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement on the rally in Pensacola. “What we do need, however, is a president capable of putting Floridians ahead of his own self-interest and get this pandemic under control.”

Most recent polls have Trump trailing Biden in Florida. Tickets are required to attend the rally.

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National

Barry Moore: Trump is right when he says that Biden is “all talk and no action”

2nd Congressional District candidate Barry Moore praised Trump’s debate performance.

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Barry Moore (VIA MOORE CAMPAIGN)

The third presidential debate was held Thursday, and congressional candidate Barry Moore released a statement emphasizing that he continues to support President Donald Trump.

“This third debate showed us once again why Donald J. Trump is the better choice to lead this nation for four more years,” Moore said. “Joe Biden’s nearly five decades of being a politician make him an expert at dodging questions, giving non-answers, and twisting the facts to fit what he thinks is the response he needs to give right then. President Trump doesn’t respond like a politician, and he left Biden floundering. Biden truly is, as the President said, ‘all talk and no action’.”

“President Trump gave us three years of incredible economic growth after the Obama/Biden recession,” Moore continued. “He’s fought Chinese disinformation and domestic undermining throughout this pandemic and wants our economy to come back quickly. Biden wants to expand lockdowns, raise taxes, impose the economy-killing Green New Deal and throw us back into the same situation we endured for eight years under Obama/Biden.”

“Biden’s record—the real one instead of his tall tale of the minute—is one of little action and lots of failure,” Moore concluded. “Trump’s record is unprecedented economic growth and restoring America’s position in the world after Obama/Biden ‘lead from behind’ weakness. That’s why I will be voting for Donald J. Trump on November 3rd.”

Trump Victory Finance Committee member Perry Hooper Jr. agreed.

“President Trump was the clear winner,” Hooper said. “Bottom line, you have an outsider with results versus a failed 47-year career politician. I thought the President did well going beyond the base talking about what this Administration has done for Black Americans. This Administration passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act, Opportunity Zones, increased funding for Historic Black Colleges and cutting Black unemployment.”

“Joe Biden hurt himself when he talked about his Energy Policy,” Hooper said. “He said he wanted to do away with the Oil and Gas Industry. Obama and Biden destroyed the coals Industry and now Biden wants to destroy the Oil and Gas Industry. What he said will hurt him in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and Oklahoma. Biden also talked about his government socialized economic policy. If that Policy is implemented, it would bankrupt America. The best statement made by the President, was when the President looked at Biden and said, You and Obama are the reason I ran.”

Public Service Announcement

The Trump campaign released a statement saying, “The President CRUSHED it.”

“After the Debate Commission CANCELED the second Presidential Debate last week, President Trump knew he needed to EXPOSE Joe Biden for the corrupt, China-loving SOCIALIST that he is,” the campaign continued. “The truth is, Biden would sell out America to the Chinese government and he’d DESTROY everything the President has accomplished. Tonight made that very clear. Unlike Sleepy Joe, President Trump will always fight for YOU.”

Moore is the Republican nominee in the Nov. 3 general election for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore served two terms in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 to 2018.

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He and his wife Heather own a small waste management business. He is a veteran, Auburn graduate, husband and father of four from Enterprise.

The general election will be Nov. 3.

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Courts

U.S. Supreme Court rules Alabama can ban curbside voting

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, allowed Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to ban curbside voting, staying a district court injunction that had allowed some counties to offer curbside voting in the Nov. 3 election amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Supreme Court’s majority in its order declined to write an opinion, but Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonya Sotomayor’s five-page dissent is included.

The lawsuit — filed by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Alabama and Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program — was brought on behalf of several older Alabamians with underlying medical conditions.

“The District Court’s modest injunction is a reasonable accommodation, given the short time before the election,” the three dissenting justices wrote. 

Sotomayor, who wrote the dissent, closed using the words of one of the plaintiffs in the case. 

“Plaintiff Howard Porter Jr., a Black man in his seventies with asthma and Parkinson’s disease, told the District Court, ‘[So] many of my [ancestors] even died to vote. And while I don’t mind dying to vote, I think we’re past that – We’re past that time,’” Sotomayor wrote. 

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill on Wednesday applauded the Supreme Court’s decision. 

Public Service Announcement

“I am proud to report the U.S. Supreme Court has now blocked a lower court’s order allowing the fraudulent practice of curbside voting in the State of Alabama,” Merrill said in a statement. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have worked diligently with local election officials in all 67 counties to offer safe and secure voting methods – including through the in-person and mail-in processes. I am glad the Supreme Court has recognized our actions to expand absentee voting, while also maintaining the safeguards put into place by the state Legislature.”

“The fact that we have already shattered voter participation records with the election still being 13 days away is proof that our current voting options are easy, efficient, and accessible for all of Alabama’s voters,” Merrill continued. “Tonight’s ruling in favor of election integrity and security is once again a win for the people of Alabama.”

Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed frustration after the ruling in a tweet.

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“Another devastating loss for voters and a blow for our team fighting to ensure safe voting for Black and disabled voters in Alabama. With no explanation, the SCOTUS allows Alabama to continue making it as hard as possible for COVID-vulnerable voters,” Ifill wrote.

Curbside voting is not explicitly banned by state law in Alabama, but Merrill has argued that because the practice is not addressed in the law, he believes it to be illegal. 

A panel of federal appeals court judges on Oct. 13 reversed parts of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon’s Sept. 30 order ruling regarding absentee voting in the upcoming Nov. 3 elections, but the judges let the previous ruling allowing curbside voting to stand. 

In his Sept. 30 ruling, Kallon wrote that “the plaintiffs have proved that their fears are justified” and the voting provisions challenged in the lawsuit “unduly burden the fundamental Constitutional rights of Alabama’s most vulnerable voters and violate federal laws designed to protect America’s most marginalized citizens.”

Caren Short, SPLC’s senior staff attorney, in a statement said the Supreme Court’s decision has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable Alabamians.

“Once again, the Supreme Court’s ‘shadow docket’ – where orders are issued without written explanation – has curtailed the voting rights of vulnerable citizens amidst a once-in-a-century public health crisis. After a two-week trial, a federal judge allowed counties in Alabama to implement curbside voting so that high-risk voters could avoid crowded polling locations,” Short said. “Tonight’s order prevents Alabama counties from even making that decision for themselves. Already common in states across the South and the country before 2020, curbside voting is a practice now encouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It should be a no-brainer to implement everywhere during a pandemic; the Alabama Secretary of State unfortunately disagrees, as does the Supreme Court of the United States.”

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National

Last presidential debate is tonight

The debate will be on from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-SPAN.

Brandon Moseley

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President Donald Trump, left, and former Vice President Joe Biden, right, are running for president in 2020.

The last presidential debate between Democratic nominee Joe Biden and Republican incumbent Donald Trump is scheduled for tonight.

The debate will be on from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-SPAN. It will also be streamed live on YouTube via CBS News and other services like C-SPAN. The debate will also be streamed via Twitter’s U.S. election hub in the “Explore” tab and on CBSN, CNNgo, the CBS News App and the Fox News App.

Game three of the Major League Baseball World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays is Friday night so will not conflict with the presidential debate. There is, however, a football game tonight on Fox between the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants.

The moderator will be NBC News’s Kristen Welker.

The topics for the second presidential debate have been announced by Welker. Welker has selected: Fighting COVID-19, American Families, Race in America, Climate Change, National Security, and Leadership, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced.

The original plan was to hold three debates, but Trump, the first lady and many members of the president’s team tested positive for the coronavirus immediately following the first debate. Trump recovered from his bout with COVID-19, but when the Presidential Debates Commission announced that the second debate would be virtual, the Trump campaign refused to participate, leading to the cancelation of the original second debate.

“I am not going to do a virtual debate,” which Trump called a waste of time in comments to the Fox Business Channel.

Public Service Announcement

Trump and Biden held competing town hall events last week instead. Biden’s town hall drew higher TV ratings. The final presidential debate before Election Day will be at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. The debate format will be six segments of approximately 15 minutes each on the six pre-selected topics.

There will be no interrupting by the candidates in this debate after the raucous behavior in the first debate.

Both Trump and Biden will have their microphones cut off in Thursday’s debate while their rival delivers their opening two-minute answer to each of the debate topics. The open discussion portion of the debate will not feature a mute button, but interruptions by either candidate will count toward their time.

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The nonpartisan commission announced the rule changes on Monday. As late as Wednesday night, the parties were still arguing whether Trump will be allowed to bring up allegations that Biden assisted his son, Hunter Biden, in the junior Biden’s business interests in China, Russia, the Ukraine and other countries. Many Republicans, including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee are urging the President to focus on the issues instead.

Election day will be on Nov. 3.

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