Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, is accused of “causing more confusion” by issuing a statement Monday alleging that members of the NAACP and Open Progress sent eligible voters erroneous messages that they are not registered to vote, Al.com reported.
“These statements [by Sec. of State Merrill] are false and reckless, and risk causing more confusion than the Secretary of State’s office has already caused by placing hundreds of thousands of voters on inactive status,” a statement from Open Progress said.
Creating confusion is one of the tactics of voter suppression, in some instances targeting low-income people who tend to move quite often. Open Progress, a voting rights group, said Merrill started the confusion by placing voters on inactive status if they did not respond to post cards sent from his office earlier this year. Consequently, when those people show up to vote, poll workers will tell them that they’re on an inactive list. The organization said Merrill’s office placed more than 340,000 voters on the list, so it conducted an outreach to inform voters of their rights and speak with them one-on-one. The Alabama NAACP said its outreach effort was intended to remind voters to make sure they’re registered, according to the news outlet.
Merrill’s office now suggests that the two organizations are the source of confusion. This all comes as Republican candidate Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones are in a tight race to represent Alabama in the U.S. Senate. Moore once had a huge lead, but several women have come forward and accused him of engaging in sexual contact with them when they were teenagers—at least one of them was underage—and he was in his early 30s.