The state of Alabama continues to push its initiative to get Alabama citizens to register to vote.

This week, Alabama Secretary of State, John Merril, released a video of former President Donald Trump in which the former president directly addressed the citizenry of Alabama.

Trump appeared in a brief video imploring the people of Alabama to get a photo ID and register to vote.

“I’m Donald Trump, and I love Alabama,” he said. “As many of you know, there are few issues facing our nation as important as election integrity and election fraud; this is why the people of the great state of Alabama must work together to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. So get out, register to vote, and get a photo ID so you can make your voice heard and decide the future of our great country.”

According to Merrill, the video was just one of many which contained celebrities imploring the Alabama public to register to vote, which he believes increases the likelihood of people paying attention to the ads. 

“In 2015, we started an initiative to register voters and to try and make sure that everybody in the state that needed one would have a photo ID,” Merrill said. “We felt like the best way to do it was to promote it utilizing well-known personalities in the state that would catch people’s attention when they were talking about the topic, so we started a full-scale multi-media campaign advertising that ‘you need to be a registered voter and you need to get a photo ID.”

The previous spokespersons include Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn, Deontay Wilder, Charles Barkley, Jessica Proctor, Dr. Mae Jemison, Taylor Hicks, Rick & Bubba, Jamie Johnson, Riley Green, Jimmy Buffet, and others.

Although the initiative has exceeded his expectations, Merrill says that he is not sure if the next Secretary will continue the trend since he will be leaving office in January.

“I’ve been Secretary for seven years and 26 days, and as of today, we’ve registered 1,987,856 new voters, and we now have a record 3,622,413 registered voters, so that has exceeded our expectations dramatically,” Merrill said. “No state in the union has done what we’ve done in the same period of time." 

A photo ID is currently required to vote in the state, which many have called into question. Many organizations such as the SPLC and others have criticized Alabama’s voting laws as restrictive and suppressive of minority groups.

Merrill adamantly rejected the assertion that Alabama is suppressing votes.

“It’s not an issue in our state, except with the people who are not from our state,” Merrill said. “People, that live in Alabama, we typically don’t tend to hear anything from them about ‘why do I have to have a photo ID? Why is this necessary?’ But people that are not from here will just rail on us and say that we’re voter suppressors. The thing that is so interesting about it is, not only have we broken every record in the history of the state for voter registration, we’ve also broken every record in the history of the state for voter participation in that same period of time. Those people that [say] are we are suppressing the vote: they’re entitled to their own opinion, but they aren’t entitled to their own facts.”

Merrill said that he agrees that there has been historical suppression of minority voters in the state but believes that he has done more to address disparities than anyone in the nation.

“It’s an old liberal Democratic initiative that is designed to make people believe that folks are being mistreated,” Merrill said. “They, in my mind, don’t have a better argument as to why voter security is so important. So, they just use that old, tired argument, which is way out-of-date, as you can tell, to say that ‘Alabama is still the king of voter suppressing states."

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