HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Thousands of voters will head to the polls on June 5 for Alabama’s 2018 primary election. While we don’t yet know the outcome of those elections, Secretary of State John Merrill says he is confident in the security of the election.
“Voters should not be worried in this state about their elections,” says Merrill.
In 2016, Russians attempted to meddle with Alabama’s voting system.
“We had our system scanned. We had people that attempted to. We had people that attempted to get into our system at some level,” explains Merrill.
Merrill traveled to monitor an election in Russia two months before the 2016 general election. He documented his trip, posting dozens of photos on Twitter. We asked Merrill if in reflection he thought he was somehow targeted by the Russians while there.
“Absolutely not. Nobody in Russia is using me or trying to find a way to use me,” says Merrill, “The timing as you put it, is because there was an election in Russia in September of 2016, and there was an election in November 2016. One had nothing to do with the other.”
WHNT also asked the Secretary of State if he thought Russians were able to get any information from his cell phone.
“No, they couldn’t have gotten into my phone because my phone was in the United States. I took a phone with me which was given to us by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Before we went they checked it out, when we got back we turned it over to them and let them review it and everything was cleared,” says Merrill.
Merrill says he did communicate with his office and worked while in Russia.
“I think foreign and domestic actors are going to try to compromise the situation. Whether it be voter registration records, whether it be election administration, whether it be just causing chaos. I think that’s something that they’re committed to doing because they wish to do people our harm. Our goal is to do everything we can to protect our people and their information.”
While there are always threats, Merrill says there is no reason to doubt the integrity of an election or the process in Alabama.