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Voter fraud coming to an end

MESSENGER PHOTO/COURTNEY PATTERSON Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill spoke to the Pike County Republican Women Wednesday about voter fraud and other issues.

MESSENGER PHOTO/COURTNEY PATTERSON
Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill spoke to the Pike County Republican Women Wednesday about voter fraud and other issues.

Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill visited the Pike County Republican Women Wednesday to discuss issues of voter fraud and other topics concerning the state.

Merrill began with discussing what he has done for the people of Alabama since taking office.

His main concern was not wasting the people’s money. Merrill examined state employees to see who was doing what they were hired to do.

“When they don’t put in a full day’s work for a full day’s pay, they are stealing,” Merrill said.

Merrill has also created policies to review every bill and invoice, so that he is aware of where money is being spent.

“People were spending and wasting money, but we didn’t know how much was being wasted,” he said. “That has ceased.”

Since Jan. 19, Merrill said that the state has saved $930,029.31.

“With a little bit of effort, it’s amazing what can be done,” Merrill said. “You have to be intentional.”

Merrill addressed the issue of voter fraud through absentee voting. He said that the issue is something he feels strongly about and is researching in order to bring change.

“I want to make sure that people are following the law,” Merrill said.

Merrill described a situation where an individual would call about a voter fraud, being sent to person after person, and no one in Montgomery was actually concerned with the issue.

Now, Merrill said, complaints or concerns can be sent directly to him on the Secretary of State site, www.sos.alabama.gov, and submit the inquiry. From there, he will submit the information to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to investigate the issue.

Since this process, three convictions for voter fraud have been made in Houston County.

“We want to make it really easy to vote, but really hard to cheat,” Merrill said. “When someone has violated the trust and confidence of this process, they need to be identified, they need to be indicted when it’s warranted, they need to be investigated … and they need to be prosecuted to the furthest extent of the law. We don’t need anyone taking away from the integrity of this process.”

Merrill has made efforts to visit all 67 counties in Alabama with a voter registration drive. “I’m not going to let this happen to our people who are trying to do it the right way,” Merrill said.

Merrill also announced to the PCRW that military men and women will be able to vote electronically.

“We wanted to make sure that we gave our military men and women that opportunity to participate in real time, have their voices heard and have their votes counted,” Merrill said. “On Aug. 25, for the first time in the history of the nation, we had electronic ballot return for our military men and women to be able to vote and have their votes come back in a protected manner, in an encrypted form that cannot be violated, to have their voices heard and their votes counted.

“If it were not for those people doing what they are doing, we couldn’t be doing what we are doing today,” Merrill continued. “That’s why that’s so important to me.”

Merrill said this concept would be presented to the state in March for the counties that want to participate.