Election skeptics search Alabama secretary of state’s workplace | Well being, Medication and Health

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GARDENDALE, Ala. (AP) — The Republican runoff for Alabama secretary of state options two candidates who’ve voiced issues about election and voter roll integrity whereas opposing the growth of early or absentee voting.

One candidate, state Auditor Jim Zeigler, is endorsed by a key supporter of former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen and the opposite, state Rep. Wes Allen, is vowing to withdraw from a nationwide system of shared voter registration information.

The 2 face off Tuesday for the GOP nomination for secretary of state, the state’s high elections official. The winner will tackle Democratic nominee Pamela J. Laffitte, a regulation enforcement officer from Cell, in November.

Curiosity in secretary of state contests throughout the nation has surged within the wake of the 2020 election as Republicans marketing campaign on suspicions of voter fraud and in some circumstances deny the results of the final presidential election.

Zeigler joined the “America First Secretary of State Coalition,” a slate of candidates who proceed to query the legitimacy of the 2020 election, and is endorsed by Trump ally Mike Lindell, the MyPillow founder. A number of America First candidates have secured GOP nominations, together with Jim Marchant in Nevada, a key political battleground. One other candidate, Jody Hice, misplaced in Georgia as Trump tried unsuccessfully to unseat Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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“I’m not an election denier. I’m an election questioner. There are numerous questions concerning the 2020 election,” Zeigler mentioned in an interview.

Allen is a former probate decide who oversaw elections on the county degree and a present member of the Alabama Legislature. Within the Home of Representatives, Allen sponsored payments to ban curbside voting in addition to outdoors donations to election places of work — laws fueled by conservatives’ suspicions about Fb founder Mark Zuckerberg’s donations to assist election places of work cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

“A core perform of our authorities is to manage secure, safe clear elections and we will do this. I simply don’t suppose that we’d like that non-public cash, infiltrating native jurisdictions that oversee our elections,” Allen mentioned.

The League of Ladies Voters of Alabama, Black Voters Matter and different teams opposed the donation ban, calling it a doable voter suppression measure that will harm the state’s poorest counties by prohibiting them from accepting grants and different assist.

Allen additionally has championed a proposal to take away Alabama from the Digital Registration Info Middle, or ERIC. The system permits the 31 collaborating states to securely share voter registration information in order that they know if somebody has moved to a different state or died and take away them from their roll.

“They’re outsourcing who’s caring for our voter registration data. So, on Day 1, I am going to begin the method of getting us out of ERIC,” Allen mentioned. Zeigler has mentioned he would evaluation ERIC participation however has not campaigned on withdrawing.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, additionally a Republican, mentioned the push to withdraw from ERIC would really undermine election safety due to its significance in sustaining clear voter rolls. He mentioned the system has had “zero cases” of identified issues.

Merrill, who can’t run once more due to time period limits, mentioned he’s disheartened by the marketing campaign development to solid doubt on the integrity of elections and registration upkeep techniques.

“I’m involved about it as a result of it breeds potential issues in individuals’s minds. When that occurs it will possibly really put individuals in a defensive posture and suppose if their candidate loses, ‘Properly then the explanation my candidate misplaced is my candidate obtained cheated.’ It may simply be that you’ve a poor candidate, or your candidate just isn’t very effectively funded or your candidate didn’t have a very good plan for a political marketing campaign.” Merrill mentioned.

Allen was one in every of a handful of Alabama probate judges who stopped issuing marriage licenses to anybody to keep away from giving them to same-sex {couples} after federal court docket dominated that homosexual {couples} had a proper to marry. {Couples} needed to go to a neighboring county till lawmakers modified the method. As a member of the Alabama Legislature, he additionally sponsored laws, at the moment blocked by a federal decide from taking impact, that made it a felony to deal with transgender minors with puberty blockers or hormones.

Zeigler was elected state auditor in 2014 and can’t search reelection due to time period limits. Though the position of state auditor is to maintain observe of state property and has restricted official duties, Zeigler turned the workplace right into a public platform to play gadfly to Republican administrations. In 2016, Zeigler filed an ethics grievance towards then-Gov. Robert Bentley, accusing him of misusing state sources after audio leaked of the governor having a romantically charged dialog with a high aide.

“Because the state auditor, I served as a watchman for the general public towards authorities waste, mismanagement and corruption. As secretary of state, I’ll function a watchman for election integrity and participation,” he mentioned.

Each Allen and Zeigler oppose increasing voting past Election Day, equivalent to early voting or permitting individuals to vote by absentee poll with out certifying an sickness or travel-related motive.

The Democratic candidate within the race, Laffitte, mentioned Alabama ought to be part of the vast majority of states that enable early voting or no-excuse absentee poll voting. Folks in each events are busy with work, little one care and different obligations, she contended, and would profit by having extra handy strategies to vote. She mentioned voter turnout is low in Alabama as a result of, “we proceed to run issues as if we’re operating within the dinosaur days.”

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