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Groups call on Secretary of State John Merrill to release statewide list of Alabama polling places

Groups call on Secretary of State John Merrill to release statewide list of Alabama polling places
Groups call on Secretary of State John Merrill to release statewide list of Alabama polling places

Six organizations have asked Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to release a full list of statewide polling places because they say some counties are not providing the information voters need. need before next Tuesday’s elections.

Merrill said he has no plans to meet the request.

The ACLU of Alabama, Alabama Arise, Alabama Election Protection Network, Alabama Forward, Lift Our Vote and Legal Defense Fund released a letter they wrote to Merrill on Monday. You can see the letter at the end of this article.

“Your duties under Alabama and federal law advise you to take urgent action to publish an accurate, uniform, and complete list of polling places throughout the state to alleviate voter confusion at the polls and the disenfranchisement that often ensues,” they wrote.

Merrill, the state’s top election official, said counties are responsible for providing precinct lists, not his office. Merrill said he does not plan to take any action in response to the letter.

“We don’t have to take any action because it’s up to the counties to do their job and what they’re supposed to do,” Merrill said. “If they have a grievance with the county, they should contact the county, contact them directly.”

Merrill noted that voters can find their polling place through a search tool on the secretary of state’s website. Voters do this by entering their name and date of birth.

In the letter, the organizations said the websites are the primary way for counties to provide information to their residents. But that information varies widely from county to county, the letter says. The organizations listed information from a sample of 13 of Alabama’s 67 counties. Seven of the counties did not have constituency lists on their websites, the letter said. Only four counties had precinct maps and only one, Madison County, had a county poll locator. Some counties have links to the Secretary of State’s search tool.

“Disparate information about polling places from county to county hinders the ability of otherwise qualified voters to participate in elections on an equal footing and can make access to voting rights dependent on the county of residence, wealth, political influence and connection to the election of the county concerned. officials,” the organizations wrote.

The letter noted that the six counties in the sample with a majority black population lacked all three resources – precinct map, precinct list and county survey locator tool.

“For black voters and other voters of color, the complete absence of data may effectively constitute a denial of the right to vote,” the letter states. “As such, we urge you to publish a uniform and comprehensive list of polling places to ensure your compliance with federal and state law and to ensure that disparate polling place information does not continue to deprive Black voters and voters. of color.”

In Macon County, one of six with a majority black population included in the sample, Probate Judge James Cooper noted the search tool on the Secretary of State’s website as a way for people to know how to vote. Another way is to call the County Board of Recorders. Cooper said the county met its legal obligation to publish the voter list, listed alphabetically by precinct, in The Tuskegee News ahead of the May 24 primary.

“I know by law we release the voters list that we did in May, we release the precincts and addresses,” Cooper said. “We don’t publish a map of these neighborhoods, but we publish this. Secretary of State Merrill’s website is a place for voters in any county to enter information and find out where they are expected to vote.

Cooper said he had not seen the letter to Merrill from the organizations.

“I also haven’t been tracking that right now because I’m kind of buried trying to get ready for Tuesday,” Cooper said.

Etowah County is one of the counties in the sample that did not have a precinct map, precinct list and county survey locator tool, although it is not not one of the majority black counties.

Etowah County Probate Judge Scott Hassell said he believed the county was complying with the law because it released a list of voters including their polling place and political districts. The list is published in an Etowah County newspaper.

Hassell said the county’s website links to the secretary of state because he said the search tool is the most accurate and up-to-date way for voters to find out where they are voting.

“Of course, like everything, there’s always room for improvement,” Hassell said. “And if posting a list of constituencies and the address in addition to what we already do would be helpful, we can do that today. It’s a very simple solution.

“I think the link to the Secretary of State’s website seems to me to be the most efficient way, probably the most accurate. If there’s a better way, I’m open and we can adjust. We want good voter turnout. We want people to come out and vote.

In addition to asking Merrill for a list of statewide polling places, the organizations asked for consistent guidelines on polling place closures.

“As the state elections official, the secretary of state is responsible for issuing ‘uniform guidelines’ on the administration of elections,” the letter said. “Consistent with this requirement, your office administers a poll locator tool that allows individual users to locate their polling place based on their residential address, but the presence of a complete list of polling locations statewide would greatly benefit election administration and alleviate the current voter confusion. caused by the closure of polling stations. This list should be organized by county and include regularly updated polling stations and addresses with corresponding precinct numbers.

. groups request secretary of state John Merrill publish list of offices vote alabama scale state

. Groups call Secretary State John Merrill release statewide list Alabama polling places

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