MONTGOMERY, Alabama (WIAT) — When Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s term expires, open seat candidates say they will make election security a top priority.
State Rep. Wes Allen (R – Troy) spent a decade as a Pike County probate judge. He says local experience in managing elections makes him a good fit for the role.
“From appointing poll workers, to training poll workers, to checking ballots, to printing ballots, to visiting all precincts in Pike County, to being there when returns come in. I’ve done everything in between.”
Allen has also touted his work in the state house, having sponsored bills banning curbside voting and private money in elections.
“We have a good system in place. We want to protect that and make sure 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 in the running. He says his experience working with voter registration offices across the state has given him hands-on experience with elections.
“I was basically under-secretary of state. Nobody called it that, but that’s basically what I did in the election,” Zeigler said.
Zeigler says if elected, he would protect the Alabama election from the excesses of the federal government.
“A vote for Jim Zeigler is a vote against it. I am all for states having national elections,” Zeigler said.
Political analyst Steve Flowers says Zeigler has some name recognition that can help voters.
“They say, ‘I’ve heard of him,’ and they can associate him with a side office,” Flowers said.
Flowers says Allen is uniquely qualified for the job.
“He worked hard, he’s very skilled, he’s a former probate judge and a state representative, so he would know how to run the office, but one or the other would probably win.”
According to a January Wave Consulting poll of about 1,200 likely Republican voters, Zeigler votes at 31%, with Allen at 11, and Chris Horn and Ed Packard each at less than 5%.