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Election Security

John H. Merrill Alabama Political Contributor

Alabama Secretary of State  February 2024

2015 - 2023


The 60th quadrennial United States presidential election will be held on November 5, 2024. As we approach this historic date in our country, a phrase resonates that seems to be introduced in each and every election cycle…”This is the most important election in the history of our country!” And yet in this election cycle, more than any other in my lifetime, that powerful phrase, often used like Peter did when he cried “wolf”, seems to ring very true! 

However, many people are worried about the safety, security, integrity, credibility, and accountability of the election due to news coverage and lack of believability following the results of the 2020 election.

While serving as Alabama’s 53rd Secretary of State and even as recently as this year, I have been asked if I thought the 2020 Election was stolen.  My response has always been the same, “During the 2020 election cycle, there were countless irregularities, improprieties, and inconsistencies throughout the nation, but not in Alabama!”

Misinformation to the contrary continues to circulate as we near the next presidential election, raising concerns about potential problems in people's minds throughout our sixty-seven counties.  Reporting or expressing these opinions as factual can and has led to a defensive posture where people think that their candidate lost because the election was rigged; however, the results could have been because the candidate was not strong enough, not well-funded, or did not have a good political campaign plan.

During my time as your Secretary of State, Alabama was recognized as the gold standard for election administration. Alabama is one of 37 states that require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, and the state only offers early voting through a well-organized and well-structured absentee process. 

In order to participate in the absentee process, the voter must submit an absentee application in person or in the mail along with a qualified government-issued photo ID.  Upon successful application, the absentee ballot is given to the voter in person or mailed to the voter at the requested address.  After the voter successfully completes his/her ballot and properly seals it in the secrecy envelope, the voter must secure the ballot in the affidavit envelope, which requires two witness signatures or authentic notarization by a registered notary.

The ID process mirrors the in-person voting experience for those participating in the process, authenticating that the voter is recognized as who the voter says they are.

To improve election transparency and make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, we need to pass legislation in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that requires voter ID for the in-person, vote-by-mail, and absentee voting experience. We must elect people to legislative positions who believe that only United States citizens who are residents of their local participating jurisdiction are both qualified and eligible to be registered to vote, are actually registered to vote, and then legally exercise their right to vote.

The worst-case scenario would be for Americans to lose faith in the electoral process. To prevent this, it is critical that people participate in the process. There are several ways to participate in the process: First, if you meet the eligibility requirements, become a registered voter. Second, cast your ballot for the candidate of your choice in the races you are eligible to vote in for that election cycle. Third, become a poll watcher and document and record the activities at one of the 1980 polling places in Alabama. Fourth, become a poll worker and be trained by local election officials to administer the election in your jurisdiction. Fifth, become a candidate and offer yourself for public office in a position for which you are legally qualified.

By becoming more involved in this process in one or more of the five ways that have been introduced here, not only will you be paying a portion of your civic rent, but you can help ensure that we have safe, fair, and free elections!



Special thanks to John Merrill for his monthly column at The Alabama Political Contributor.

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