BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A Washington D.C.-based civil law group is suing Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill over access to voter registration records.
The Campaign Legal Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of Greater Birmingham Ministries to seek lists of purged voters, as well as Alabamians denied the right to vote due to felony convictions under the National Voter Registration Act.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that Merrill is in violation of the NVRA and to order him to provide those records without cost to the small Birmingham-based non-profit.
Greater Birmingham Ministries, which assists with voters registration and restoration of rights, says it needs the lists to better inform those who can legally vote but may be unaware of their rights to do so.
The CLC says the state is required to provide electronic copies of registration records that accurately reflect the current official lists of eligible voters free of cost.
CLC senior director Danielle Lang says the state’s costs are excessive.
“I think that Secretary Merrill is not doing any voter in Alabama, any service by denying GBM these records. GBM is trying to perform a public service for all of Alabama in helping to engage voters,” she said. “Alabama doesn’t do anyone any service charging $37,000 for the voter file. What that means is that political parties can access the voter file and do engagement. But nonprofit groups and church groups and other groups can’t afford to do so.”
Based on data compiled by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Alabama has the highest estimated cost for its full voter file. That’s more than any other state in the country.
Merrill’s office tells News 19 it cannot comment on pending litigation.