Secretary of State John Merrill commented on the ongoing election issues in Florida and Georgia on Monday, reaffirming his confidence in Republican Georgia gubernatorial nominee Brian Kemp and criticizing Florida’s situation as “an embarrassment” that would not be tolerated in Alabama.
In an interview with Yellowhammer News, Merrill commented on the situation in Florida, which is a close election and embroiled in controversy and allegations of fraud by Broward County elections supervisor Brenda Snipes. As pointed out by Alabama Today, Snipes is a native of Talladega.
Republicans ranging from President Donald Trump to Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) have sharply criticized Snipes, alleging that she is trying to fraudulently tip the race in favor of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum (who is backed by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin) against former Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) in his reelection bid against Governor Rick Scott (R-FL).
“Now, I don’t know what’s going on in Florida, except I do know this: there have been several occasions over the last 20 years that have had election concerns that have been introduced in the state of Florida,” Merrill said. “It’s interesting to me that on more than one occasion, they come out of that same area, with the same people being involved. Now, whenever that happens, it seems to me like it’s time for a change.”
Merrill stressed that is not a partisan issue, but when someone tarnishes the integrity of the elections process so badly beyond repair, that individual needs to be held to account.
This sentiment was affirmed by former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), who initially appointed Snipes in 2003 but on Monday publicly called for her removal from office for her alleged misconduct.
“It’s an embarrassment, it’s an embarrassment to Florida and it’s an embarrassment to their elections administration that that kind of thing continues to happen,” Merrill emphasized.
In Alabama, he stressed that this kind of debacle would never be tolerated.
“We would not stand for this in our state,” Merrill stated. “And we wouldn’t stand for it because our people expect us to have elections that are credible and that have integrity, that are safe and secure. And that people know that when their vote is cast for the candidate of their choice, it’s recorded for the candidate of their choice.”
Merrill also expressed his disappointment in the fact that votes are supposedly still being counted in Georgia, even though it has been six days since the November 6 election. He also voiced his continued support for Kemp, who had been Georgia’s secretary of state until Thursday, when he stepped down to avoid any appearance of interfering in the adjudication of his own election’s results.
“Brian Kemp is going to be the next governor of Georgia, shouldn’t be any doubt in anybody’s mind that he’s going to be the next governor. And I can tell you, of all the secretaries of state that I have had the privilege to meet since I’ve been serving, Brian is outstanding, and he’s been a friend and a mentor to me,” Merrill said.
Merrill has been a vocal supporter of Kemp’s gubernatorial campaign, even traveling to Georgia to stump for him on the trail. Merrill said he has done “whatever [he] could to make sure” Kemp won, adding, “[B]ecause I think that it’s in Alabama’s best interest for Brian to be the governor of Georgia.”
While Merrill believes that Kemp will do “a tremendous job” when he officially becomes governor, Alabama’s secretary of state lamented how the elections process has devolved at the hands of Democrats.
“I think that it’s unfortunate that when someone loses, that they don’t just acknowledge the fact that they didn’t get enough votes, they didn’t run a well-organized-enough campaign or they didn’t have a strong enough message and they can’t just admit that and step aside,” Merrill outlined, referring in this situation to Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Stacey Abrams, who is losing by 1.5 percent (almost 60,000 votes) but will still not concede.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn