Civil rights group sues Alabama secretary of state over voter registry request

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A Washington DC-based civil rights group is suing Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill for access to voter registration records.

The Campaign Legal Center has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Greater Birmingham ministries seeking lists of purged voters, as well as Alabamians who have been denied the right to vote due to felony convictions under the law national voter registration system.

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Merrill is in breach of the NVRA and to order it to provide those records free of charge to the small Birmingham-based nonprofit.

Departments in Greater Birmingham, which help with voter registration and restoration of rights, say they need the rolls to better inform those who can legally vote but may not be aware of their rights to do so .

The CLC says the state is required to provide free electronic copies of registration records that accurately reflect current official lists of eligible voters.

CLC Senior Director Danielle Lang says state costs are excessive.

“I think Secretary Merrill is doing no voters in Alabama any favors by denying GBM these registrations. GBM is trying to do a public service for all of Alabama by helping to engage voters,” she said. “Alabama is doing no one a favor by charging $37,000 for the voter registry. This means that political parties can access the electoral register and get involved. But non-profit groups, religious groups and other groups cannot afford to do this.

Based on data compiled by the United States Election Assistance Commission, Alabama has the highest estimated cost for its complete voter registry. That’s more than any other state in the country.

Merrill’s office told News 19 it could not comment on ongoing litigation.


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