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Merrill and APR columnist dispute over voter ID laws

Jessa Reid Bolling

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Alabama Political Reporter investigative reporter and featured columnist Josh Moon continue to trade words on Alabama photo ID laws. 

In an op-ed published on July 31, Moon claimed voter ID laws “disproportionately impose hardships on those minorities being able to cast votes. Merrill issued a response later that day, calling Moon’s claim “false,” saying that the Alabama’s voting laws help to ensure “fair, safe and secure elections by preventing voter fraud through identity theft” and that there have been no recorded instances in which someone has been denied the right to vote for not having the proper credentials. 

Moon’s newest op-ed, published on Monday, said Merrill’s response only proved his point that photo ID laws do nothing to prevent voter fraud, saying that in-person voter fraud “barely exists”  and that voter fraud mostly occurs through absentee ballots. 

In his response, Merrill cited that his office adjudicated over 900 citizen complaints that his office received over the last four years. Moon says that none of those complaints were related to in-person voter fraud. 

“They’re (the citizen complaints) all about absentee ballot fraud and election officials acting illegally or inappropriately,” Moon said in the op-ed. “That continues a trend of 20-plus years without a single complaint of in-person voter fraud — the only type of fraud that a photo ID shown at the polls can prevent. It also continues a trend of roughly 95 percent of all voter fraud being absentee ballot fraud, which you would think would be the focus of lawmakers looking to stamp out fraud.”

Merrill responded to Moon’s second op-ed yesterday, saying the reason none of the complaints were related to in-person voter fraud is because the photo ID law prevented it from occurring. 

“Moon asserted that of the 927 complaints filed, not a single complaint was related to in-person voter fraud,” Merrill said in a statement. “Alabama does not have in-person voter fraud because the photo voter ID law exists. In fact, a judge ruled if every state handled their photo ID law like Alabama, then every state’s photo ID law would have been upheld.” 

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The Secretary of State’s statement also emphasized that photo ID laws help to deter voter fraud and that these laws increase voter confidence in elections. 

A new absentee voting law, Alabama Act 2019-507, went into effect on August 1. The law requires voters to submit a valid form of photo identification along with their absentee ballot applications and removes the requirement that Absentee Election Managers publish the list of absentee voters, their addresses, and their polling places in the county courthouse.

 

Jessa Reid Bolling is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter and graduate of The University of Alabama with a B.A. in journalism and political science. You can email her at [email protected] or reach her via Twitter.

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