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Secretary Merrill says voting is easier than ever in Alabama

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The following statement from Secretary of State John H. Merrill is in response to the inaccurate report shared by the Southern Poverty Law Center and Alabama Political Reporter columnist Josh Moon:

“A report published Monday morning by the Southern Poverty Law Center presented readers with the grossly inaccurate claim that voter suppression is ‘alive and well’ in Alabama. This assertion, however, could not be any farther from the truth.

You see, one of the many things we have done since taking office is work to make it easier than ever to vote in the State of Alabama.

We have worked with the Legislature on numerous occasions to meet the needs of Alabamians in a bipartisan fashion. Most notably, in 2019, I worked with Senator Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, to identify two new ways in which voters may vote by absentee ballot. Last year, we also worked with Representative Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, to establish a way for permanently disabled voters to participate in the electoral process through casting an absentee ballot. These two pieces of legislation have streamlined the absentee voting process and made it easier and more accommodating for the voter.

To be very clear, absentee voting allows for a form of early voting for eligible Alabamians, and we are proud to offer this service to the people in our state who meet the requirements.

We would also like to point out that in the states that do permit early voting, election costs have increased in every state and yet there have been no significant increases in voter participation. Considering we continue to break every record in the history of the state for voter registration and voter participation is proof that our current election laws are not a problem to voters in this state.

Please note the following of the last four major elections:  

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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.

And since taking office in January of 2015, we have registered 1,440,682 voters bringing the state’s total number of registered voters to 3,564,263, as of Friday, February 7, 2020. For each of these voters, we have a name, address, birthday, a social security number, and an email address, if provided, proving their identity.

These numbers are unprecedented and unparalleled by any state in the union.

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While the Southern Poverty Law Center may not understand simple math, I am glad to see that my friend Josh Moon agrees that while these people are entitled to their own opinions, they are not entitled to their own facts – and the fact of the matter is that the current voting system has allowed for significant increases in registration and participation.

And to Mr. Moon’s point ‘It doesn’t matter the percentage of people that Merrill’s office has registered to vote, or how many registrations he’s managed from his caravan,’ I would strongly disagree. Each of these people represent a different perspective or background and their stories and their participation are equally as important. Theirs is the story of Alabama, the greatest state in the union.

Additionally, in 2017, we worked with Senator Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, and Representative Mike Jones, R-Andalusia, to identify the crimes of moral turpitude, which disqualify a voter from participating in the electoral process. In 2016, I worked with Representative Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, to restore the voting rights of those who have been previously disqualified. 

Through working with members from both sides of the aisle, we have streamlined the voting process to ensure everyone who is eligible and interested has the opportunity to participate.

It is unfortunate to see people take advantage of their platforms to push an agenda that is intentionally designed to mislead voters and decrease the public’s trust in elections.

Alabamians and Americans know that the most effective method of political activism is to participate in the electoral process to ensure that our elected officials hold the same values that are held by the electors that put them into office, and I encourage all who are eligible to vote in the March 3, 2020 Primary Elections.”

 

The Alabama Political Reporter is a daily political news site devoted to Alabama politics. We provide accurate, reliable coverage of policy, elections and government.

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Congress

Voting rights activist calls for federal Department of Democracy

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

Micah Danney

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(VIA BLACK VOTERS MATTER)

The co-founder of an organization that is working to mobilize Black voters in Alabama and elsewhere used the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to call for a new federal agency to protect voting rights nationwide.

LaTosha Brown, a Selma native who co-founded Black Voters Matter, issued a statement saying that it is time to reimagine American democracy.

“The Voting Rights Act should be reinstated, but only as a temporary measure. I want and deserve better, as do more than 300 million of my fellow Americans,” Brown said.

The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a key provision of the law in a 5-4 ruling in 2013, eliminating federal oversight that required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to get approval before they changed voting rules.

“To ensure that the Voter’s Bill of Rights is enforced, we need a federal agency at the cabinet level, just like the Department of Defense,” Brown said. “A Department of Democracy would actively look at the patchwork of election systems across the 50 states and territories. With federal oversight, our nation can finally fix the lack of state accountability that currently prevails for failure to ensure our democratic right to vote.”

She cited excessively long lines, poll site closings and voter ID laws in the recent primaries in Wisconsin, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas as voter suppression techniques that disproportionately affect Black and other communities of color.

Brown said that the July 17 passing of Rep. John Lewis, who was nearly killed marching for voting rights in Selma in 1965, has amplified calls for the Voting Rights Act to be strengthened. That’s the right direction, she said, but it isn’t enough.

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“History happens in cycles, and we are in a particularly intense one. We have been fighting for the soul of democracy, kicking and screaming and marching and protesting its erosion for decades,” Brown said.

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Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Jerry Carl

Brandon Moseley

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Congressional candidate Jerry Carl.

The Alabama Forestry Association on Thursday announced its endorsement of Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Jerry Carl.

“Jerry Carl has experience working closely with the forest products industry in his role as County Commissioner and will carry that knowledge to Washington,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “Throughout his career, he has been a strong advocate for limited government and free markets and will continue to promote those same values in Congress. We are proud to endorse him.”

Carl is a small businessman who has started more than 10 small businesses in South Alabama, creating hundreds of jobs. He is currently serving on the Mobile County Commission.

“I am thrilled to earn the endorsement of ForestPAC,” Carl said. “Alabama has a thriving network of hard-working men and women in all aspects of the forestry community, and I look forward to being a strong, pro-business voice for them in Congress. As a lifelong businessman and an owner of timberland, I understand firsthand the needs and concerns of the forestry community, and I will be a tireless advocate in Washington for Alabama’s forest industry.”

Carl said that he was inspired to run for the Mobile County Commission when he became frustrated with the local government.

He and his wife, Tina, have been married for 39 years. They have three children and two grandchildren.

Carl faces Democratic nominee James Averhart in the Nov. 3 general election. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, who currently represents the 1st Congressional District, did not run for another term and has endorsed Carl.

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Elections

Alabama Forestry Association endorses Tuberville

Brandon Moseley

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Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.

The Alabama Forestry Association announced Wednesday that the group is endorsing Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville in the upcoming general election.

“We are proud to endorse Tommy Tuberville in the United States Senate race,” said AFA Executive Vice President Chris Isaacson. “He is a conservative with an impressive list of accomplishments, and we know that he will continue that record in his role as U.S. Senator. Tommy knows that decisions made in Washington impact families and businesses and will be an effective voice for the people of Alabama.”

“I am honored to have the endorsement of the Alabama Forestry Association,” Tuberville said. “The AFA is an excellent organization that stands for pro-business policies. Protecting Alabama industry is a key to our state’s success.”

Tuberville recently won the Republican nomination after a primary season that was extended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuberville is a native of Arkansas and a graduate of Southern Arkansas University. He held a number of assistant coaching positions, including defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and the University of Miami where he won a national championship.

Tuberville has been a head coach at Mississippi, Auburn, Texas Tech and Cincinnati. In his nine years at Auburn University, the team appeared in eight consecutive bowl games. His 2004 team won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl.

Tuberville coached that team to a perfect 13 to 0 season.

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Tuberville has been married to his wife Suzanne since 1991. They have two sons and live in Auburn.

Tuberville is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones in the Nov. 3 general election.

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Elections

Jones campaign says Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously

Brandon Moseley

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Incumbent Sen. Doug Jones, left, and Republican challenger Tommy Tubberville, right.

Incumbent Democratic Sen. Doug Jones’ re-election campaign released a statement critical of Republican Senate nominee Tommy Tuberville, suggesting that he is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously enough.

“The Washington Post reported today that the stock market plummeted after jobless claims climbed last week by 1.4 million and the economy shrank by 9.5 percent — the biggest decline in most of our lifetimes,” the Jones campaign wrote. “While economists are worried about the permanent damage COVID-19 will do to the economy, and public health experts are pleading for people to abide by state and local mask orders, Tommy Tuberville ‘snickers’ in response to questions about flouting public health orders while in DC to raise campaign cash. The people of Alabama need to know that Tuberville is not taking the pandemic seriously, raising serious questions about how he would handle this crisis if elected.”

The Washington Post reported that “Tuberville is fundraising and holding ­in-person meetings in Washington this week, defying orders from D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) that visitors from Alabama and other coronavirus hot spots quarantine for 14 days upon arrival.”

“Tuberville spent at least some of his time at the Trump International Hotel, according to a photo posted to Facebook by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) showing the two men in the hotel lobby on Tuesday night,” the media reports stated. “Neither man was masked.”

Tuberville told AL.com that he has been called “everything in the world” so the last week is nothing new.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday the former Auburn coach broke Washington D.C. policy requiring “non-essential” visitors from states with high coronavirus case counts to self-quarantine for 14 days when he attended fundraising meetings in the city this week. In addition, a photo of Tuberville with Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Arkansas, at the Trump International Hotel in Washington showed neither man wearing a face covering.

Tuberville addressed the controversy in comments to the Alabama Republican Executive Committee on Saturday. Tuberville said that he followed all the rules and wore his mask everywhere he went. When he was at events he would take his mask off to dine and people would come over to his table to shake his hand and get their picture taken. The press has seized on those moments to attack him, he claimed.

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The COVID-19 global pandemic has killed 707,158 people worldwide including 160,833 Americans since it first was discovered in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China in late 2019. Absent an effective treatment or a vaccine, social distancing and masks are the only tools that we have to slow the spread of the virus.

The Tuberville-Jones race for U.S. Senate is going to have an important role in whether or not Republicans are able to hold on to their narrow Senate majority.

Tuberville is an Arkansas native. He is best known for his tenure as Auburn University’s head football coach, which includes an undefeated and untied team that won the SEC Championship and the Sugar Bowl. He also coached at Texas Tech, Cincinnati and Mississippi.

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The general election is Nov. 3. Tuberville has been endorsed by President Donald Trump.

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