Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill to join Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill (R), and Secretaries of State from across the country on a voting rights history tour of AlabamaConnecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will join Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson this week as they host a voting rights history tour in Alabama with 18 other secretaries of state from across the nation.
This bipartisan group of statewide election officials – eight Democrats and 12 Republicans – will spend three days experiencing the history of the voting rights movement.
“I’m proud to be joining my colleagues to put aside partisanship and celebrate the history of voting rights,” said Denise Merrill. “At a time when the Voting Rights Act and the foundational democratic right to vote is under attack, it is critical that Secretaries of State across the country fight to tear down barriers that prevent voters from being able to cast their ballot and make their voice heard.”
“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,” John Merrill said.
Benson echoed the sentiment: “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.”
The tour will take place from May 9-11 and will feature stops in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Selma. Participating secretaries of state will visit historical locations and museums that tell the story of the struggle for voting rights and enactment of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. They include 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Dexter Ave. King Memorial Baptist Church and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, and will culminate in a crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.
Throughout their time in Alabama, the secretaries will be joined by special guests whose lives were changed forever by the voting rights movement. From family members whose loved ones died in the course of the fight to leaders of the movement, visits to places and heritage sites throughout Alabama will be informed by voices of those who are intimately part of this history.
The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) is providing logistical and organizational support for this history tour in conjunction with the Alabama Department of State and the Michigan Department of State. This tour is made possible through the generous support of the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Ford Foundation, and the Democracy Fund.
Participating secretaries of state include:
• Denise Merrill, Connecticut (D)
• Jocelyn Benson, Michigan (D)
• John Merrill, Alabama (R)
• Kevin Meyer, Alaska Lt. Governor (R)
• Katie Hobbs, Arizona (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)
• 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)
Secretary Merrill and other secretaries participating in this tour will share their journey on social media using the hashtag #SOSDemocracy2019.