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John Merrill (American politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Merrill
John H Merrill - 2019.jpg
53rd Secretary of State of Alabama
Assumed office
January 19, 2015
GovernorRobert Bentley
Kay Ivey
Preceded byJames Bennett
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 62nd district
In office
2010–2014
Preceded byGerald Allen
Succeeded byRich Wingo
Personal details
Born
John Harold Merrill

(1963-11-12) November 12, 1963 (age 57)
Wedowee, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (2010–present)
Other political
affiliations
Democratic (before 2010)
Spouse(s)Cindy
Children2
EducationUniversity of Alabama (BA)

John Harold Merrill (born November 12, 1963) is an American politician serving as the 53rd secretary of state of Alabama since 2015. He served in the Alabama House of Representatives from 2010 through 2014. Merrill is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life

Merrill was born in Wedowee, Alabama, and raised in Heflin, Alabama. His father served as the Cleburne County circuit clerk and a probate judge. At the age of sixteen he received the Eagle Scout Award as a member of his local boy scouts troop.[1] In 1982, he graduated from Cleburne County High School. Merrill double majored in history and politics at the University of Alabama and received a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1987. Merrill interned for the United States Congress from May to July 1983, where he met representative William Flynt Nichols, who became his mentor. The following year, Merrill interned in the capitol for senator Howell Heflin between May and July 1984. He served as the president of the University of Alabama's Student Government Association from 1986 to 1987.[2]

Career

Merrill served as the spokesperson for the Tuscaloosa County School District, and as a business development officer for the First Federal Bank in Tuscaloosa.[2] He was elected to represent the 62nd district in the Alabama House of Representatives in the 2010 elections, having previously run and lost for the same seat in 2002 as a Democrat.[3] He served in the House of Representatives for a single term from 2010 through 2014.

Merrill announced in January 2013 that he would run for Secretary of State of Alabama in the 2014 elections.[3] In the Republican Party primary election in June 2014, Merrill finished in first, advancing to a runoff election in July,[4] which he won.[5] In the general election on November 3, 2014, he defeated Lula Albert-Kaigler, the Democratic Party nominee with more than 60% of the vote.[6] He succeeded James R. Bennett, who had been appointed to the office to fill out the remainder of the term of the Republican incumbent representative Beth Chapman.[7] Merrill was elected to a second full term in 2018.[8]

Election oversight

Voter access

A 2016 study by professors Bridget A. King and Norman E. Youngblood at Auburn University, found the content and quality of Alabama's county election and voting websites were lacking with relevant information regarding deadlines, polling stations, and voter requirements. King and Youngblood's evaluation of the relationship between voting systems and "demographic, socioeconomic, partisan, and participatory composition" of counties showed "limited voting and election information and are not in full compliance with accessibility, usability, and mobile readiness standards." Furthermore, they found the extent to which voting and elections information are provided is "related to county composition."[9]

Voter ID

In a 2016 United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decision, Secretary Merrill was blocked from enforcing Alabama's documentary proof of citizenship requirement because the Court ruled that the addition of this requirement to the federal voter registration forms violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Alabama's law was challenged by the League of Women Voters.[10] The decision effectively struck down a rule that required voters in Alabama to provide proof they are American citizens. Under federal law, voters only need to swear that they are citizens in order to register to vote.[11][12]

Merrill applauded the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision by the United States Supreme Court, which among other things, limits federal poll monitoring in Southern states.[13] The court's ruling was criticized by Democratic and liberal groups like the Advancement Project.[14]

Poll monitoring

Merrill was part of a coalition of American election officials who traveled with fellow Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) poll monitors to Russia for poll monitoring during the parliamentary elections held on September 18, 2016.[15] While Merrill did not personally witness corrupt or improper procedures, the report found systemic problems with "serious irregularities during voting" and even worse practices during ballot counting.[15]

U.S. Senate campaigns

On June 25, 2019, Merrill announced his candidacy for Alabama's United States Senate seat in the 2020 election against incumbent Democratic senator Doug Jones. He was one of five GOP candidates.[16]

On July 17, 2019, at a campaign event in Fort Payne, he stated that "homosexual activities" pervasive in mainstream media had partly lead to the nation's moral decline. When asked in a follow-up interview, Merrill pointed to the media coverage of the United States women's national soccer team win in the World Cup as an instance.[17] According to Merrill, there are no longer any television shows "that are based on biblical foundations" which "promote family and culture with a father, a mother, and children" present.[16]

In 2021, Merrill announced that he was canceling his planned 2022 Senate campaign, after being publicly exposed as having had an extramarital affair over a four-year period.[18]

COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Merrill sought to stop the implementation of curbside voting for immunocompromised voters.[19]

Personal life

Merrill is a relative of Hugh Davis Merrill, the former lieutenant governor of Alabama and Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Hugh Davis Merrill Jr., who served in the House, and Pelham Jones Merrill who served in the House and fought in World War II.

Merrill is married to the former Cindy Benford of Phil Campbell, Alabama. They were married on May 11, 1985, at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[20] They have two children.

In 2021, he denied having an extramarital affair, instead claiming that a female legal assistant was "stalking" and "harassing" him. He subsequently admitted the affair and stated that he would not run for Senate in 2022, but also would not resign from his current post, which runs until January 2023.[18]

Electoral history

2010 Alabama House of Representatives 62nd district Republican primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Merrill 3,262 56.12
Republican Jerry Tingle 2,551 43.88
2010 Alabama House of Representatives 62nd district election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Merrill 11,658 86.66
Constitution Steven Kneussle 1,694 12.59
Write-ins Write-ins 100 0.74
2014 Alabama Secretary of State Republican primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Merrill 143,960 39.57
Republican Reese McKinney 139,763 38.42
Republican Jim Perdue 80,050 22.01
2014 Alabama Secretary of State Republican primary runoff election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Merrill 108,740 53.14
Republican Reese McKinney 95,877 46.86
2014 Alabama Secretary of State election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican John Merrill 733,298 64.27
Democratic Lula Albert-Kaigler 406,373 35.62
Write-ins Write-ins 1,271 0.11

References

  1. ^ "Merrill becomes Eagle scout". The Anniston Star. July 26, 1980. p. 50. Retrieved April 19, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ a b "Doing what he has always wanted to do... Secretary of State - elect, John Merrill". AL.com. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  3. ^ a b "State Rep. John Merrill announces he will run for Alabama secretary of state". AL.com. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  4. ^ "Alabama secretary of state, auditor's races headed to runoffs". AL.com. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  5. ^ "Rep. John Merrill defeats Reese McKinney for Republican nomination for secretary of state". AL.com. Retrieved January 22, 2015.
  6. ^ "Alabama Local News - al.com". al.com. Archived from the original on January 20, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  7. ^ "Former Alabama Secretary of State Jim Bennett has died". al. August 18, 2016. Retrieved June 21, 2020.
  8. ^ "John Merrill defeats Heather Milam to retain Alabama secretary of state post". The Montgomery Advertiser.
  9. ^ King, Bridget A.; Youngblood, Norman E. (May 29, 2016). "E-government in Alabama: An analysis of county voting and election website content, usability, accessibility, and mobile readiness". Government Information Quarterly. 33 (4): 715–726. doi:10.1016/j.giq.2016.09.001.
  10. ^ "Court Blocks Proof-Of-Citizenship Requirement For Voters In 3 States". NPR. September 10, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  11. ^ "Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth". Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  12. ^ Levitt, Justin (August 6, 2014). "A Comprehensive Investigation of Voter Impersonation Finds 31 Credible Incidents out of One Billion Ballots". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  13. ^ "SHELBY COUNTY, ALABAMA v. HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL, ET AL." (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. June 25, 2013. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "SCOTUS Removes Critical Protection For Voters Of Color". Advancement Project. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  15. ^ a b "What did Alabama's top election official learn from monitoring Russian election?". WHNT.com. September 29, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Daugherty, Owen (July 16, 2019). "Alabama GOP senate candidate says 'homosexual activities' have ruined TV, country's moral core". The Hill. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  17. ^ Fitzsimmons, Tim (July 17, 2019). "GOP official says fixation with 'homosexual activities' harming U.S. moral core". NBC News. Retrieved July 21, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Sheets, Connor; Whitmire, Kyle (April 7, 2021). "Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill admits affair, won't run for U.S. Senate: 'There's no excuse'". The Birmingham News. Retrieved April 7, 2021.
  19. ^ Barnes, Robert (October 21, 2020). "Supreme Court grants Alabama's request for ban on curbside voting". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ "Benford, Merrill". The Anniston Star. June 16, 1985. p. 45. Retrieved April 6, 2020 – via Newspapers.com.

External links

Alabama House of Representatives
Preceded by
Gerald Allen
Member of the Alabama House of Representatives
from the 62nd district

2010–2014
Succeeded by
Rich Wingo
Political offices
Preceded by
James R. Bennett
Secretary of State of Alabama
2015–present
Incumbent
This page was last edited on 8 April 2021, at 21:03
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