MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is in familiar company. Many of his counterparts from around the nation have landed in Alabama as part of a nonpartisan voting rights history tour.
Merrill, a Republican, is joining Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, to host the three-day tour. Of the 20 participants, eight are Democrats and 12 are Republicans.
“This is a unique opportunity to bring a nationwide group of state chief election officers together to learn about both our sobering history and promising future here in Alabama and, by extension, the country,” Merrill said.
“Together this group of leaders is responsible for administering elections in 20 states across the country. I hope this nonpartisan tour inspires us to come together while we learn about the hard-won struggle for voting rights that continues to impact our work in elections every day,” Benson said.
In Alabama tonight w/ 20 other Secretaries of State exploring the rich history that informs the work we do to protect the right to vote. Grateful to @JohnHMerrill & @NASSorg for taking my small idea & making it real, looking fwd to the journey ahead. First stop: @bhamcivilrights pic.twitter.com/tDAwaxP0EP— Jocelyn Benson (@JocelynBenson) May 9, 2019
The secretaries visited historic spots in Birmingham on Thursday. Montgomery is the focus on Friday and Selma on Saturday. At each stop, they’ll hear from some elected officials and leaders.
The tour includes the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Dexter Ave. King Memorial Baptist Church and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, and a bridge crossing on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
The secretaries of state who are taking part in the tour include:
• John Merrill, Alabama (R)
• Kevin Meyer, Alaska Lt. Governor (R)
• Katie Hobbs, Arizona (D)
• Denise Merrill, Connecticut (D)
• Brad Raffensperger, Georgia (R)
• Connie Lawson, Indiana (R)
• Paul Pate, Iowa (R)
• Scott Schwab, Kansas (R)
• Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky (D)
• Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana (R)
• Matt Dunlap, Maine (D)
• Jocelyn Benson, Michigan (D)
• Barbara Cegavske, Nevada (R)
• Bill Gardner, New Hampshire (D)
• Frank LaRose, Ohio (R)
• Kathryn Boockvar, Pennsylvania (D)
• Nellie Gorbea, Rhode Island (D)
• Steve Barnett, South Dakota (R)
• David Whitley, Texas (R)
• Kim Wyman, Washington (R)
The Center for Secure and Modern Elections, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Ford Foundation, and the Democracy Fund are supporting the tour, according to Merrill’s office.
You can follow along with the tour group as the post about their trip with the social media hashtag #SOSDemocracy2019.
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