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Merrill on Doug Jones voter suppression claims: ‘He’s not entitled to his own facts’

MONTGOMERY — Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill responded to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) asserting that Republicans “do not want African-Americans and other minorities to vote,” with the Republican secretary of state saying the brazen claim has “absolutely no validity.”

After the State of the State Tuesday evening, Yellowhammer News asked Merrill about Jones’ comments made Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Merrill expressed his disappointment in Jones for “[misleading] people.” The secretary of state also rattled off statistics that run counter to Jones’ assertions.

“It’s unfortunate that we have elected officials who will make statements like that that have absolutely no validity,” Merrill said of Alabama’s junior senator from Mountain Brook. “You see, the thing that really concerns me is when someone says that from a position of stature, and they mislead people.”

“Because, if he’s got evidence to indicate that that’s a concern, he needs to introduce it to us [at the Secretary of State’s Office], because we would be the people that would investigate that and make sure it was turned over to prosecutors or law enforcement or whatever was necessary. He’s entitled to his own opinion, he’s not entitled to his own facts,” he continued.

Merrill concluded, “And the facts are that since January 19, 2015, which is four years, one month and 11 days ago, we’ve registered 1,211,906 new voters. We now have a record 3,468,747 registered voters in Alabama. We’ve broken every record in the history of the state for voter registration and voter participation. 96 percent of all eligible African-Americans in the state of Alabama are registered to vote. So, he’s entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts. And the empirical data does not back up his statement that he made on national TV.”

Yellowhammer News also asked Merrill if he would be taking a position on Governor Kay Ivey’s “Rebuild Alabama” infrastructure plan.

“No, because the governor was elected by the people of this state to introduce new ideas and new topics that need to be considered by the Alabama legislature,” he responded. “And that’s what she’s doing.”

Merrill added, “I supported the governor in her campaign, I support her now in her administration. Just like she supports me and our administration in what we’re attempting to do in the areas that we’re responsible for.”

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn