Alabama’s top elections official says there’s no need for the state to tell ex-felons they can now vote, since anyone who really wants to cast a ballot will keep trying.
Earlier this year, the state passed a law that reduces the number of ex-felons who are barred from voting. But Secretary of State John Merrill (pictured) said Wednesday that there’s no need for Alabama to spend money letting thousands of people know they’ve been re-enfranchised.
In an interview with ThinkProgress, Merrill, a Republican, was asked about a hypothetical ex-felon who tried to register last year and was denied, but now can legally vote. If they’re not following the news closely, how would they know to try again?
“Why wouldn’t he?” Merrill responded. “This is the thing: If they’re interested in participating in the process, then they’re not going to try just one time.”
Merrill continued: “That’s like asking me if someone wants to take a flight somewhere and they checked and they couldn’t get a flight, so they never went back on the airline listing again to see if they could go to that place. Well that’s foolish because if it’s important to them to do it, they’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen.”
Of course, as Danielle Lang, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, told ThinkProgress, even if someone did try again, they’d probably do so by looking at the voter registration form on the secretary of state’s website. But that form hasn’t been changed.
Last month, a judge rejected a Campaign Legal Center lawsuit that had sought to require Alabama to create a public information campaign to educate people about the new law.