A “misleading, unsolicited mass mailing of pre-filled voter registration forms” sent to Alabamians is coming soon from out-of-state groups, according to Secretary of State Wes Allen. 

A spokeswoman for Allen said the mailers have been discouraged by the Office of the Secretary of State.

The Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information plan on sending at least two mass mailings of pre-filled voter registration forms to Alabama citizens, beginning as early as this month, according to a statement from the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office. 

Allen said in a statement he has submitted written objections to the groups’ efforts, due to the confusion they will create.

“On two occasions, this Office was contacted on behalf of Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information regarding a mailer they planned to send to Alabama citizens. In response, I strongly discouraged the group’s plan to mass mail our citizens,” Allen said. “This type of targeted, partisan interference by out-of-state, third-party organizations is unnecessary, confusing, and counterproductive.”

According to its website, the Voter Participation Center is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to increasing voter registration in the United States among young people, people of color and unmarried women.” The Center for Voter Information is a partner organization with the Voter Participation Center.

“In a press release issued today, the Alabama Secretary of State grossly mischaracterized the essential work that we do to register eligible Americans to vote. The goal of the Voter Participation Center (VPC) and Center for Voter Information (CVI) is to register and turn out eligible voters in Alabama. This is non-partisan work and its aim is one that all election administrators should support. This is about bringing democracy to eligible American’s doorsteps,” Tom Lopach, president and CEO of VPC and CVI, said in a statement to 1819 News. “VPC and CVI focus largely on underrepresented populations - people of color, young people, and unmarried women."

"Since 2003, VPC and CVI have helped more than 6.1 million people register to vote," he continued. "Our mail programs have a tangible and positive impact on the voters, and on representative democracy. In Alabama alone, VPC and CVI will be sending out more than 138,000 pieces of mail. Eligible Alabamians can simply fill out the state voter registration form, sign it, and mail in their voter registration application. VPC and CVI use the very same voter registration forms used by county election officials and, as stated by Secretary of State Allen, we provide sample letters to state election officials months before the mailers go out. If an individual receives our mailer and is already registered to vote, they can simply discard it. We make this clear in the letter that voters receive from our organizations. Our hope is that all election officials will support our efforts to promote democracy, instead of misleading and alarming voters about our effective and non-partisan voter registration programs.”

In past election cycles, the Office of the Secretary of State has fielded complaints from concerned Alabama residents who received incorrect pre-filled voter registration forms similar to the ones being mailed by the Voter Participation Center and Center for Voter Information, according to Allen.

“Alabama citizens can rest assured that the Alabama Secretary of State’s office and local election officials are well-equipped to handle voter registration in Alabama. Trusted voter registration and election information can be found on the Secretary of State’s official website,” Allen said.

Anti-ballot harvesting legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Kay Ivey made distributing pre-filled absentee ballot applications to Alabamians illegal. Pre-filled voter registration forms are still legal to distribute in Alabama.

“You are correct that the recently enacted SB1 only applies to absentee ballot applications, not pre-filled voter registration forms,” Laney Rawls, a spokeswoman for Allen told 1819 News. “While the practice of sending targeted pre-filled voter registration forms is not currently illegal under Alabama law, it is confusing to Alabama citizens because forms are often pre-filled with inaccurate or outdated data."

Eligible Alabama citizens may register to vote online at www.AlabamaVotes.gov or mail a voter registration form to their local Board of Registrars. National political observers expect Alabama's 2nd Congressional District general election race in November to be one of the most competitive in the country. Republicans and Democrats will both decide their nominees for the race on April 16.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.

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