Alabama, after more than two decades, finally will be in compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. Secretary of State John Merrill, speaking Monday at the Florence Rotary Club, said when he took office in January, he went to work on bringing Alabama in compliance with the so-called motor voter requirements. He said his goal is to have Alabama in full compliance by mid-2016. “We have three years to be in compliance. My goal is to be in compliance by the middle of next year,” he said. Alabama reached a memorandum of understanding a week ago with the U.S. Department of Justice to make voter registration available to anyone applying for or renewing a driver’s license.
The state also will contact residents eligible to vote but who were not given the opportunity to register when applying for or renewing a driver’s license. “We met with the Department of Justice and showed them where we are. I began working with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency as soon as I took office,” Merrill said.
Numerous state trooper offices, which can issue driver’s licenses, were closed this year as part of budget cuts made by the Legislature. Many of those closed were in rural area with large black populations. Most of the offices have since been reopened one day a week. “We want to make it real easy to vote, and real hard to cheat,” Merrill said.
Merrill, a Republican, said his office now is using an electronic ballot return for military personnel stationed outside Alabama to ensure their votes are counted in elections.