Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill (R) published a column in which he stated that the Board of Registrars in the state with “the most egregious dereliction of duties” were asked to resign.

“Those registrars who have proven themselves unable to adequately perform their duties must face consequences,” Merrill wrote. “In the county where the most egregious dereliction of duties occurred, I sought and received the resignation of all three registrars involved.”

Merrill confirmed to 1819 News that it was the Etowah County Board of Registrars that he was discussing.

“All three of them were asked to resign and they are gone,” Merrill said.

The issues in question were exposed in the Republican primary in House Districts 28 and 29.

The Board of Registrars was tasked with implementing the legislative redistricting passed by the Alabama Legislature ahead of the May 24 Republican primary. Whatever went wrong led to an election day in Etowah County that has been widely described as mass confusion.

Following the primary, Merrill and Etowah County Probate Judge/Election Manager Scott Hassell released a statement excoriating the Board of Registrars for their poor performance.

The errors in assigning residents to the proper district were revealed weeks prior to election day when former State Rep. Mack Butler’s sister received the wrong ballot.

“Upon learning of this voter being assigned to the wrong district, the Etowah County Board of Registrars were instructed to begin taking action to correct the problem by assigning voters to their proper districts as required by state law,” the joint statement said. “Registrars from other counties and employees of the Secretary of State’s office offered advice and guidance as to how to make the needed corrections. The members of the Etowah County Board of Registrars are the only people authorized by Alabama law to make the changes.

“It was discovered during the May 24 Primary Election that the problem had not been corrected and this negatively impacted both the candidates and voters in House Districts 28 and 29. At this point, it is unknown how many voters were directly affected.”

Merrill said that Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has made her appointment of a replacement registrar, but that State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) and Commissioner of Agriculture and Industries Rick Pate (R) still have to make their appointments to the Board.

“Those will be hard to fill,” Butler said. “You are really going to have to beat the bushes.”

1819 News asked if this would be fixed ahead of the Nov. 8 general election.

“Yes, they are almost done,” Merrill said. “We hired a third-party group to do the work.”

In the preliminary results, Butler led incumbent District 28 Rep. Gil Isbell and in District 29, Mark Gidley led Jamie Grant.

Both Grant and Isbell filed challenges with the Alabama Republican Party. The Alabama GOP candidates committee found in favor of both winners and dismissed the challenges so now Butler and Gidley are the Republican nominees in their respective districts.

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