A new 1819 News poll indicated that 47% of Alabama voters are undecided about who to vote for in the Republican primary for Secretary of State on May 24.
In a state-wide phone survey conducted from March 15-16, 35.6% selected Jim Zeigler. Wes Allen polled at 11.5%, followed by Christian Horn at 3% and Ed Packard at 2.9%.
The poll was conducted by Wisemen Consulting, an independent research company, on behalf of 1819 News. The margin of error is 3.4%.
This election comes at a time with renewed interest in the office due to the issue of election security. Alabama’s Secretary of State oversees the Elections Division, which administers elections and implements election laws from the state and federal levels.
The current Secretary of State, John Merrill, nears the end of his second and final term. Merrill is term-limited from running for the office again.
According to the chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party and former State Representative Paul DeMarco, this race takes on added importance because of the concerns over election security.
“This race is very important," DeMarco said. "You can look at what’s happened across the country in the last presidential election. You’ve got to have confidence in the election process on a state level, as well as at the local level. There’s a lot of powers of the Secretary of State, including public policy, at all levels. This is a very important position, so we will see where it ends up. I think in the past folks thought it was just used as a stepping stone for a higher office, but I think it is very important when it comes to the election process.”
Yet Alabama voters are apparently not very aware of the candidates running for Secretary of State. Due to Zeigler’s experience holding state offices, voters are more likely to know who he is.
DeMarco said he believes Zeigler and one other candidate will enter a runoff, where name recognition won’t be as critical.
“Name ID isn’t as important in a runoff because most folks that go for a second time around, they are going to vote for somebody," said DeMarco.
The 1819 News poll, conducted by Wiseman Consulting of phone respondents from across the state from March 15-March 17, asked the question:
"If the Republican Primary for Secretary of State were held today, who would you be most likely to vote for?"
Wes Allen 11.50%
Christian Horn 3.00%
Ed Packard 2.90%
Jim Zeigler 35.60%
Allen announced in January that, if elected, he intends to remove Alabama from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which he said is Democrat-controlled and funded by progressive billionaire Goerge Soros.
ERIC currently holds a contract with the state of Alabama to maintain voter rolls. As one of 31 states in the program, Alabama pays a membership fee to ERIC of around $28,000 a year, contributing to the organization’s annual budget of $1,037,000.
Merril denied Allen’s claims and said that ERIC has not received any money from George Soros or other groups often labeled as liberal.
Packard, a former representative of ERIC, said he had no reason to believe the program was involved in any abuse and would like to keep ERIC if elected. However, he said he would consider the interests of Alabamians first.
Zeigler said he staunchly opposes mail-in ballots. “There’s too much opportunity for manipulation.”
“In our constitutional republic, we depend on fair elections,” said Zeigler. “... our election system is under assault from so-called ‘progressives.’ They would take any opportunity to attack our voter I.D. requirement, to attempt to federalize the election. I’m against that. We don’t need the Biden Administration and Nancy Pelosi running Alabama’s elections.”
About ERIC, he said he has a “synergistic” solution. He said, if elected, he would create a working group responsible for evaluating ERIC and possibly searching for viable alternatives.
In a speech given to the St. Clair County Young Republicans, Horn was critical of the 2020 elections and promised to defend election integrity in Alabama.
The race to May 24
Zeigler said his goal is to win the election without going into a runoff.
“This is not going to be easy because of my low level of financial support," Zeigler said. "I am behind in donations. We hope to have enough money to get my message out to the public. If I can do that, I can win.”
Zeigler said he has a plan to win “without special interest money.”
Zeigler also said he believes his lead is due to his record as State Auditor.
“The approach I use as State Auditor will be the same as Secretary of State," said Zeigler. "As State Auditor, I was a watchman for the public against government waste and corruption.”
Allen told 1819 News that the election is the only poll that matters.
“I am working hard to get my message of election security and experience out to the conservative Republican voters in this state, and I feel good about the direction our campaign is going," Allen said.
Horn provided a statement after the poll saying in part that he is going to keep working hard and campaigning across the state.
"I’m the underdog, and, just like Trump in 2016, the only outsider in the race," said Horn. "...My focus is on the people, and as a former champion college football player, I’m focused like Nick Saban on each play every day without looking at the 'scoreboard' of polls, and we will get to that 51% or be in the runoff.”
Packard said he recognizes the vast amount of voters are still undecided.
“Where I do get out and speak, groups I’ve been speaking to, I’m very well received, and it just means I need to get out and speak to more people,” Packard said.