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Merrill reacts to Saban’s voting reform letter to Manchin, highlights coach’s efforts in Alabama’s elections process

According to Secretary of State John Merrill, his office has fielded numerous inquiries regarding University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban’s letter to U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) regarding the “Freedom to Vote Act.”

In the letter co-signed by Saban and other prominent sports figures, the signees outlined their support for the so-called voting rights legislation and commended Manchin for his support of the bill.

Excluded from the letter, which was circulated among state and national media outlets, was Saban’s dissent to Democrats’ efforts to eliminate the Senate’s filibuster rules. Saban’s position on the issue mirrors that held by Manchin, a longtime friend of Saban’s.

While addressing reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Manchin took issue with the letter’s exclusion of Saban’s stance on the filibuster. The senator claimed that former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue intentionally removed Saban’s footnote from the letter that was sent to the media.

“[N]ick Saban, at the bottom of his letter, which they didn’t put, Paul Tagliabue did not put what Nick Saban wrote at the bottom, his footnote,” said Manchin. “He supports the filibuster. Do not get rid of the filibuster. Now, why did he automatically leave that out?”

Merrill’s office on Wednesday in a release responded to Saban’s recent entry into the voting rights discussion. The secretary of state’s office noted Saban’s collaboration in its efforts to promote voter registration and participation in Alabama’s electoral process.

“It is important to note that Coach Saban has been an active voter and participant in our elections process in Alabama since his arrival in our state in 2007,” Merrill’s office stated. “In 2015, at Secretary John Merrill’s invitation, he collaborated with the office to promote voter registration and photo ID delivery through commercials that aired on television stations all across the state as well as social media promotion. More than twenty-five thousand posters were also distributed raising awareness about the campaign.”

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Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL