Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill: Goal Is to ‘Make It Easier to Vote and Harder to Cheat’

A growing line of voters, right, wait as others fill out their paper ballots in privacy voting booths, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018, in Ridgeland, Miss. Voters have a number of races to consider, including judiciary and federal offices and some local issues. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R), who is serving as the cochair of the Republican State Leadership Committee’s (RSLC) commission to fuel election integrity measures, provided examples of what the commission is doing to promote election integrity in elections and told Breitbart News Saturday their overarching goal is to “make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

What secretaries of state and state legislators must do, he said, is “continue to promote the best practices that are ongoing throughout the nation” and present them to states that need help.

Merrill said the commission has five overarching goals: empowering states, ensuring voter integrity through voter roll accuracy, securing absentee and mail-in voting to “make sure that it is what it should be in states that choose to use it,” streamlining the canvassing process, and increasing transparency for in-person voting, which he identified as “gold standard for voting.”

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Too many states “sacrificed security, accountability, transparency for accessibility and availability of the ballot” in the last election, Merrill explained, adding we should “never sacrifice security, transparency, and accountability in the elections process for anything.”

The secretary of state used Alabama as an example of a state that has laws in place, which are enforced and adhered to in all 67 counties.

That, he said, is not the case for counties in states such as Arizona, Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, “and as everybody knows, the 159 counties in Georgia.”

“They are not following their own laws in their own local jurisdiction,” he said.

“And so we believe that each state should be responsible for their own elections. We don’t have national elections We have 50 state elections for a national office when it comes to the presidency, but we know that each state should follow their own laws in each jurisdiction in their state, and that’s what we’re promoting, and that’s what we’re doing by introducing these best practices across the union,” he told Breitbart News Saturday.

Host Matthew Boyle asked Merrill about one of the major influences seen in the last election in the form of private donors, such as Mark Zuckerberg, donating money to local election offices around the country.  The “vast majority” went to inner cities, increasing turnout in cities such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Merrill noted the investments were not allocated in places that were not urban areas.

“And it was designed to get the vote out to more heavily influence the results in that particular state for Democratic candidates at the local, at the federal, and, obviously, the presidential level,” Merrill said.

Alabama is one of the states looking to eliminate that particular practice of electioneering and will have its legislature consider such legislation. He believes every state should do the same, emphasizing it is “not an acceptable practice to have a third party group, regardless of its political philosophy, come in” and interfere while demonstrating its bias.

More broadly, though, the RSLC commission will concentrate on absentee voting, audits, early voting, paper ballots, photo ID, poll watchers, recounts, signature verification, mail-in voting, voting centers, voting tabulators, and election equipment. Merrill said they must present legislators with the best practices through statutory language that has already been in practice, introducing those concepts to legislative bodies and encouraging them to consider those options from states that are already doing them well.

Ultimately, Merrill said they want to “make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”

“We want to make sure that people are aware of things that are going on,” he said. “We want to make sure that people know that we are committed to ensuring that we have a successful administration of the election in every state in the union.”

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