ThinkProgress: Alabama Elections Chief is Impeding Voter Registration Because He is Not Sure People Want to Vote


An Alabama federal judge ruled last week that the state does not have to educate former felons about a new law that extends the right to vote to tens of thousands of citizens who had previously been disenfranchised. On Wednesday, Alabama’s Republican secretary of state defended that decision, saying that he doesn’t know whether people with felony convictions actually want to vote.


After the law was changed, the Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center asked the court to force Merrill’s office to both educate voters of the law change through signs at government buildings and to update the voter registration form to specify who is now permitted to vote. The group also asked that the court compel Alabama to automatically register any former felon who is now eligible but who tried to register to vote in the last two years and was rejected. The judge denied the request.


Danielle Lang, deputy director of voting rights for the Campaign Legal Center, called Merrill’s travel analogy “inapt.”


“Even if they were to think to try again, the way they would think to do that is to go on the secretary of state’s website and look at the voter registration form,” she added. “But if it hasn’t changed, which it hasn’t, then they would have no reason to believe that they can try. To use the inapt comparison, if they were to go back on and look and there were still no flights being shown as available, people wouldn’t know there are secret flights available.”


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