MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — As Alabama’s Secretary of State John Merrill’s term expires, candidates for the open seat say they’ll make election security a top priority.
State representative Wes Allen (R – Troy) spent a decade as a Pike County probate judge. He says that local experience running elections makes him a good fit for the role.
“From appointing poll workers, training poll workers, proofing ballots, printing ballots, visiting all the precincts in Pike County, being there when returns come in. I’ve done everything in between.”
Allen also touted his work in the statehouse, having sponsored bills banning curbside voting and private money in elections.
“We’ve got a good system in place. We want to protect that, and make sure that every legal ballot is counted, and we’ll do that in a safe, secure, open and transparent way,” Allen said.
State Auditor Jim Zeigler is also running. He says his experience working with voter registrars statewide has given him hands on experience with elections.
“I was in essence a deputy secretary of state. No one called it that, but that’s essentially what I did in the elections,” Zeigler said.
Zeigler says if elected he’d protect Alabama elections from federal overreach.
“A vote for Jim Zeigler is a vote against that. I’m for keeping the states running state elections,” Zeigler said.
Political analyst Steve Flowers says Zeigler has some name recognition that may help with voters.
“They say, ‘I’ve heard of him,’ and they may associate him with a secondary office,” Flowers said.
Flowers says Allen is uniquely qualified for the position.
“He’s worked hard, he’s very well qualified, he’s a former probate judge and a state representative, so he would know how to run the office, but either one of them would probably win.”
According to a January Wave Consulting poll of about 1,200 likely Republican voters, Zeigler is polling at 31 percent, with Allen at 11, and Chris Horn and Ed Packard each under five percent.