The following statement from Secretary of State John H. Merrill is in direct response to the recent op-ed published by Joey Kennedy of Alabama Political Reporter:
“An article published Thursday morning by Joey Kennedy falsely reported that the Office of the Secretary of State supports voter suppression, which could not be any farther from the truth.
As I have said previously, Mr. Kennedy is entitled to his own opinions. However, he is not entitled to his own facts.
Since I took office on January 19, 2015, my team and I have worked to register 1,352,073 new voters in the State of Alabama, bringing the state’s total number of registered voters to 3,524,615 as of Friday, September 27, 2019. These numbers are unprecedented and unparalleled in the history of the state and unequaled by any state in the Union. We will continue to work to ensure that every eligible U.S. citizen that is a resident of Alabama is registered to vote and has a government-issued photo I.D.
Currently, 94 percent of all eligible Alabamians are registered to vote. 96 percent of all eligible African Americans and 91 percent of all eligible Caucasians in the state are registered to vote.
Not only has the Office of the Secretary of State shattered every record in the state for voter registration, but we have also broken every record in state history for voter participation.
Please note the following of the last four major elections:
On March 1, 2016, more than 1.25 million Alabamians voted, breaking every record in the history of the state for participation in a Presidential Primary.
On November 8, 2016, more than 2.1 million Alabamians voted, breaking every record in the history of the state for participation in a Presidential General Election.
On December 12, 2017, more than 1.3 million Alabamians voted and participated in the Special U.S. Senate Election, and on November 6, 2018, more than 1.7 million Alabamians voted, again breaking every record in the history of the state for a Midterm General Election.
I would also like to point out that since our photo I.D. law took effect in 2014, there has never been a recorded instance in which someone was denied the right to vote when he or she had the proper credentials.
You see, in Alabama we make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.
In fact, the Office of the Secretary of State consistently travels to all 67 of Alabama’s counties each year to register voters and issue photo voter I.D.s. Citizens may also do so by visiting the Board of Registrars’ Office any day that the county courthouse is open. In the case that a citizen is unable to visit the courthouse or the location where the mobile unit is stationed, we will go to their home and personally provide them an I.D., which we have done on numerous occasions.
Kennedy went on to say that ‘no real effort to allow ex-inmates who have served their time [to] rejoin the voter rolls’ had occurred. In reality, thanks to bipartisan legislation we wrote and shepherded through the legislative process in 2016, any voter convicted of a disqualifying felony who has met all of the terms of his or her sentence and has applied for and received a Certificate of Eligibility from the Department of Pardons and Paroles will be re-added to the voter rolls immediately upon successful application. However, our legislation clarified that all felonies are not disqualifying. A person convicted of a non-disqualifying felony is not removed from the voter rolls. A comprehensive list of disqualifying felonies can be found here.
As far as educating voters, the Office of the Secretary of State invests resources annually to inform Alabamians of ways they can register to vote or obtain a photo voter I.D. including through the app ‘Vote for Alabama’, which was created under my administration. In doing so, we are reaching residents in every corner of the state.
It is of paramount importance to me and my staff that we are providing Alabamians with all the necessary information needed to enter the polling place. That is why we issue sample ballots, and in the event that there is a constitutional amendment to vote on, my office produces a narrative so the changes can be easily interpreted.
Furthermore, I am the very first Secretary of State to provide strong support to the Fair Ballot Commission. I have worked to ensure that constitutional amendments are fully explained on the back of sample ballots. Through the use of social media and other platforms, we further promote this information to voters across the state.
Again, while Mr. Kennedy is entitled to his own opinion, he is not entitled to his own facts. In the Office of the Secretary of State, we will continue to work to increase voter registration and voter participation across the state.”