MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- For months now we have been wondering what will happen to the 674 people identified by the Alabama Secretary of State's office as potential crossover voters. Friday afternoon, we finally got the answer. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has confirmed that none of those voters will be prosecuted.
Over 600 voters were accused of illegally attempting to vote in the Republican Senate runoff on September 26 after casting ballots in the Democratic Senate primary on August 15.
“Those individuals will be investigated, indicted, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Merrill told WHNT News 19 one day after the runoff between Luther Strange and Roy Moore.
Merrill still maintains that message on crossover voting but with an additional caveat.
He says, "If it is indeed necessary, we are going to recommend prosecution, and we are so thankful this was not the case in this instance.”
The Secretary of State said that after consulting with all 40 probate judges in the counties affected by crossover voting, none of them recommended further action.
“They indicated to us that was not warranted and not necessary and we're very excited to hear that news," says Merrill.
Merrill still considers this exercise a success even if it is just to set an example. “That’s why it’s so important to keep the names of the people who were actually identified as crossover voters,” he emphasized.
Madison Democratic Chairman, Tom Ryan, has been one of Merrill's harshest critics.
“I guess I’ll have to throw away that plaque that says 'Secretary of Voter Suppression' that I had all made up for Secretary Merrill, but who knows, it may come back,” Ryan said.
Ryan's concern is not with the concept of the law itself. in fact, he suggests it should go a step forward and require all voters to declare their party affiliation.
“Independents shouldn’t be allowed to vote in a Republican Primary or a Democratic Primary," Ryan added.
Ryan says it is the penalty that he's against. Even though the law doesn't include a punishment clause, Merrill's office says it should fall under felony election fraud.
“Class C felony up to 10 years is way overkill,” Ryan remarked.
Ryan is hopeful the Alabama Legislature will amend the crossover voting law to lessen the penalty. Merrill has said many times that he will whole-heartedly execute any law the legislature passes into law.