John Merrill announces 92 percent of Alabama election complaints closed

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Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill announced on Tuesday that his office has successfully resolved all election complaints from the 2016 election cycle and the 2017 Senate election.

Since taking office, Merrill’s team has closed over 92 percent of election issues and complaints that have been submitted.

“Our goal since taking office has been to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill said in a press release. “When I first sought this office, there was no process for documenting voter fraud reports. It is unfortunate complaints like this have to be made at all, but I am proud of the way we have worked to follow through and get them closed or reported to the appropriate authorities.”

In March of 2015, former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency partnered with the Secretary of State’s office to form the Alabama Elections Fairness Project; a united effort to “investigate and prosecute allegations of voter fraud or campaign finance irregularities,” according to AL.com.

The team has since created a page on the Secretary of State’s website where concerned individuals can report suspected fraud or suspected violations of the Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act in state and local elections online.

Since April of 2015, Merrill’s office has received 764 complaints about voting issues from several sources, including personally observed voting fraud.

Of the 764 complaints received, the office has only 58 remaining cases under investigation.

The following is a breakdown of which organizations closed the 706 complaints which were resolved:

  • Seven closed reports were handled by Merrill’s office
  • 24 were sent to the ethics commission
  • 37 were reported to the Attorney General
  • 151 were closed due to lack of sufficient information
  • 39 were reported to local or state law enforcement
  • two were withdrawn
  • 446 were closed generally

Each member of the Alabama Elections Fairness Project received complaints in accordance with their jurisdiction.

For example: complaints sent to the Ethics Commission involved campaign material or finance issues and those sent to the Attorney General’s office were sent because the complaint contained “improper procedures in the administration of the election process, absentee balloting issues or misuse of campaign materials,” according to the press release.

“Our office is committed to serving the citizens of Alabama and to doing our part to uphold the rule of law,” Merrill continued in the press release. “We work closely with our law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels to ensure these issues are properly investigated and vigorously prosecuted. We currently have several cases under investigation that could lead to criminal charges, and we hope that serves as a deterrent for people who would seek to harm our electoral process in the future.”

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