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Opinion | Secretary of State Merrill responds to APR column on H.R.1

“The ‘For the People Act’ is most definitely not for the people of Alabama, regardless of what out-of-touch liberal media activists like Josh Moon like to believe.”

Secretary of State John Merrill (VIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE)
The following is a direct response from Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill to Alabama Political Reporter Josh Moon.

Josh Moon once again incorrectly asserted his opinion. This time, on the dangerous legislation commonly referred to as the ‘For the People Act,’ but better identified as the ‘For the Politicians Act.’

Yesterday, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a hearing on S. 1, the Senate version of HR1 (the ‘For the People Act’). During the hearing, the information we shared in a press release yesterday was emphasized by members of the committee and panelists giving testimony. While Moon chooses to ignore the facts, I am glad several members of the United States Senate have chosen to recognize the bill for what it truly is.

HR1/S. 1 in an incumbency protection program for liberal politicians aimed at centralizing elections in Washington, D.C.

Moon’s claim that the bill ‘increased election security while expanding voting options that have proven safe and effective’ could not be any farther from the truth.

In reality, the bill would force states to welcome fraud-ridden practices into their elections. One of the practices required, ballot harvesting, would grant paid political operatives the ability to act as untrained and unsupervised election workers. Delivering, returning, and assisting in the marking of hundreds of ballots (many times without being prompted by the voter), as we witnessed in states like California, gives unwarranted influence to these campaign workers without any sort of oversight.

Moon went on to falsely claim that the bill would get rid ofgerrymandered districts because of a ‘nonpartisan’ committee designed to draw district lines. As Moon denotes, the committee will be made up of five registered Republicans, five registered Democrats, and five Independents. The only problem with this is people like Senator Bernie Sanders are considered Independent. Sanders is listed on the website of the United States Senate as an Independent, and he has already filed to run in 2024 as an Independent.

However, his ideals line up much more closely with that of the Democratic caucus than they do the Republican caucus.

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HR1/S. 1 similarly changes the makeup of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from a bipartisan six-member group to a partisan five-member group. Nine former FEC commissioners issued their extreme opposition to this legislation stating HR1/S. 1 would destroy the credibility of the commission and make the body ‘subject to partisan control.’

While the bill provides that no more than two members could be from the same political party, there is no guarantee that the fifth ‘unaffiliated from a political party’ member is truly nonpartisan. The same can be said for the ‘Independent’ committee members assigned to handle redistricting.

By giving the President and Congress the power to decide redistricting, this bill would take accountability out of politics. Voters would no longer be choosing who represents them in Congress. Rather, politicians would be choosing their voters.

Using governmental power to ensure one remains in power completely undermines our democracy and strips Americans of their right to hold politicians accountable.

Yet, Josh Moon ignores these facts and chooses only to include the parts of the bill he approves of.

As my colleague in West Virginia, Mac Warner, noted yesterday, the bill would prohibit military and overseas voters, as well as voters with disabilities, from voting on ballots that are electronically transmitted. This bill strips those voters of their right to vote independently and with the software or assistance they have grown to become familiar with.

Currently, our office is working with members of the Alabama Legislature to provide a similar option for voters who are blind and low vision in our state. H.R. 1/S. 1 would prohibit this option before it is ever fully implemented or offered.

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As Moon mentioned, this option would only be offered during certain, time-constrained situations, as opposed to offering it regularly as is the case now.

If Democrats truly want to help people vote, as they claim to do under this bill, why are they denying our military personnel and disabled voters the opportunity to vote in a way they may currently be accustomed to?

Further, Senators on both sides of the aisle emphasized during the committee hearing how secure and successful the 2020 General Election was. If this is the case, why are Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats trying to take power away from states to administer their own respective elections?

This bill allows for the federal takeover of elections and takes power out of the hands of the American people.

The “For the People Act” is most definitely not for the people of Alabama, regardless of what out-of-touch liberal media activists like Josh Moon like to believe.

John Merrill is Alabama's secretary of state.

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