In an interview with Huntsville, AL radio’s WVNN that aired Friday, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill dismissed the suggestion of implementing vote-by-mail elections on a broad scale, and especially in his home state.
Merrill explained that for vote-by-mail as the predominant voting method to be successful requires states to already have at least 60% of its voting by mail, which is the case only in a handful of states.
“Oh friend, I have a lot of thoughts about that, and I will tell you this — there are some things I think that need to be known by your listeners that I think are so very important,” he said. “First and foremost, there are five states in the union that use vote-by-mail as the predominant method for having voting in their state. Those states are Hawaii, Utah — but the experts in the field are Oregon, Colorado and Washington State. Now if you talk to experts, those states that have been doing this a while, especially those states I just mentioned — Oregon, Washington and Colorado — they will tell you that unless your state is already doing 60% of its voting by mail, primarily through the absentee process, you should not consider adopting vote-by-mail as the primary preference choice for your voters in your state.”
“If you do elect to pursue that, it takes about five years to have it implemented and to put you in a strong position to be able to know when you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it without any kind of interruption for the voter or for those election administrators,” Merrill added.
According to Merrill, his state of Alabama was at 4%, and neighboring Tennessee was at 2%, adding that other states were comparable with Alabama.
“I think it is important to know that this is not something we need to consider right now,” Merrill said. “What we’re doing is we’re promoting the efforts we already have in place and making this easy for people to participate.”
Merrill says automatic receipt of ballots could be a violation of law in states like Alabama where voter ID laws are in place.
“One of the things that has become evident to [my staff] in their research is you cannot regulate the photo ID component if everyone is receiving a ballot automatically,” he said. “Now our law, which we just passed last year, requires anyone that participates in the vote-by-mail law through absentee participation has to return a copy of their valid photo ID in the application to receive the absentee ballot.
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