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Sec. of State Merrill awards medallions to companies, agencies that helped Nov. 3 election go smoothly

MONTGOMERY – Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill held a ceremony in the State Capitol on Wednesday afternoon, during which he gave awards to six entities that aided Alabama’s successful November 3 general election.

The groups receiving the awards were the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, the Alabama Office of Information Technology, Alabama Power Company, the Alabama Rural Electric Association, Electric Cities of Alabama and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative.

Merrill said at the ceremony that the four utility entities and the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) deserved the recognition because of their efforts restoring power to precincts after Hurricane Zeta struck less than a week before the election.

“Polling places in more than 19 of Alabama’s 67 counties were left without power,” mentioned Merrill.

“Each of the power cooperatives awarded today, in addition to the Alabama Emergency Management Agency, worked tirelessly around the clock to protect our democracy through identifying areas in need, restoring power and providing generators,” he added.

Alabama Power has relayed that Hurricane Zeta was comparable to the April 2011 tornadoes in its damage to utility infrastructure.

Additionally, the Office of Information Technology was included because it “consistently provides support for our office to see that no cyber-related vulnerabilities or irregularities occur on our end,” noted Merrill.

Representatives from each of the organizations receiving the medallion were present for the ceremony.

NASS medallions come through a project of the National Association of Secretaries of State that allows the chief elections official in each state – usually the secretary of state – to give awards to institutions deemed as having exemplified civic virtue.

Alabama EMA Director Brian Hastings thanked Merrill during brief remarks for fostering intergovernmental cooperation in the years leading up to the election and further thanked the utility companies for their hard work in the wake of Zeta.

“The partnership we had on Alabama’s worst days helped the foundation of our democracy which is free and fair elections,” Hastings concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@new-yhn.local or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.