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Opinion | Secretary of State responds to “false” APR op-ed

The following statement from Secretary of State John H. Merrill is in response to a recent opinion piece published by Joey Kennedy of the Alabama Political Reporter.

Once again, Joey Kennedy has wrongly inserted himself into a conversation he knows very little about.

This week, Kennedy claimed, “There is no valid reason we [in Alabama] cannot follow other progressive and conservative states that use mail-in ballots.”

Recently, the world witnessed the issues that erupted with Georgia’s rapid expansion of voting by mail. Those problems could easily occur in any other state that adopted similar standards with such limited time for implementation.

I am also curious if Kennedy has considered the thousands of missing absentee ballots that went undelivered or unreceived this past April in Wisconsin?

The logistical, technological, and infrastructural issues associated with voting by mail could cost millions of people their opportunity to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choosing — something that we will not allow to happen in Alabama.

Alabamians have a long history of attending the polls on Election Day. Currently, on average, 96 percent of those Alabamians who choose to vote, vote in-person on Election Day. Of the five states that conduct vote-by-mail elections, it should be noted that prior to voting entirely by mail, more than 60 percent of the voters in those particular states were already returning ballots by mail.

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While I have encouraged anyone who is concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19 to apply for and cast an absentee ballot, the number of absentee ballots that have been applied for as of Wednesday, June 10, are not very different from absentee numbers we have seen in previous election years.

With the emergency excuse provision we have provided under Governor Ivey’s declared State of Emergency, it has never been easier to cast an absentee ballot in the State of Alabama. Not to mention, we have experienced an extended absentee voting period, longer than ever before in state history.

Furthermore, our office has been in constant, close communication with the local election officials in all 67 counties since March 13, 2020 to provide guidance and assistance to ensure the fairness, safety, and security of our elections.

In doing so, we are protecting the right for every eligible Alabamian to exercise their right to vote – whether that be in-person at the polls or through mailing in an absentee ballot – without having to compromise their safety or well-being.

That, Mr. Kennedy, is simply a fact, and one that you should accept.


John Merrill is Alabama's secretary of state.

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