CULLMAN, Ala. – Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen on Tuesday night spoke at the Cullman County Republican Women meeting. He said his primary objective was to get the message across about how important election integrity is to both the state of Alabama and the country as a whole.
“When the opportunity presented itself to run for secretary of state, and we prayed about it, thought about it, to give up a safe House seat, to run for an open secretary seat,” Allen said, reflecting on the decision to run for office, “we decided to do that because we thought the skills we possessed and the work we had done in the past allowed us to serve Alabama.”
Allen emphasized the similarities between his previous role and the duties of the Secretary of State’s office. Both positions require handling critical records and regular interactions with the public to address their needs. He believes his background uniquely prepared him to serve.
“When I drive up to the state Capitol each and every day, I represent Alabama, what our values are and what our principles are, and what y’all believe in, what we believe in,” he expressed, “and to represent you and stand up for y’all is so important.”
Allen addressed decision to withdraw from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a “nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization created by and comprised of state election officials from around the United States.” (ericstates.org) Allen highlighted the importance of safeguarding voter information within Alabama’s control. He acknowledged that the move faced some opposition but claimed it was a significant step in “securing voter data.”
Allen said his office has also been working diligently on an Alabama-based solution for voter file maintenance to ensure data security and efficiency in the election process. While details of this solution are not yet public, Allen hinted at an upcoming announcement.
Allen discussed several wins during the last legislative session. According to him, key accomplishments included securing legislation to ensure paper ballots will always be a part of Alabama’s elections. Additionally, he said, new laws ensure that voting tabulators will never be connected to the internet. Allen also shared his satisfaction with achieving a pay increase for poll workers, recognizing their crucial role in the democratic process. He expressed his appreciation for their dedication on election days.
A notable legislative effort discussed was the attempt to prevent what he and others refer to as “ballot harvesting,” SB-1. While the bill faced challenges in the Senate, Allen affirmed his commitment to reintroducing it in future sessions. Allen said Sen. Garlan Gudger has been one of the biggest supporters of SB-1 and that Gudger does not plan on giving up on the bill. He said the goal is “to strengthen Alabama’s elections and protect the absentee balloting process while ensuring disabled individuals can still exercise their right to vote.”
According to Reuters, “Laws around ballot collection vary from state to state. In some states, anyone can drop off a ballot on behalf of another person. In other states, ballot collection is limited to family members or caregivers….An authorized person can legally drop off a ballot for someone else for a range of reasons, including if a person is disabled, elderly, or unable to leave their house, Lorraine Minnite, an associate professor of Public Policy and Administration at Rutgers University, told Reuters.”
Allen unveiled what he said is a significant development in his office: advanced geographic information system software. He said it “will aid in more efficient and precise mapping of election-related data, contributing to improved electoral processes.” According to Allen this software helps ensure that people are “in the correct district and the correct precinct.”
“I’ve never stopped fighting for Alabama. I’m proud to be from Alabama,” Allen concluded. “Elections are important, if we don’t get it right then nothing else matters.”