“I’ll take “petulant man-boy” for $500, Alex…”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill just surged into the lead as the national poster child (with emphasis on child) for the dangers of straight-party voting. We can only be pleased that he was forced to drop out of the Republican Senate primary due to lack of support. However, he is still in charge of our state elections – and that’s not working out any better than his Senate campaign.
While other states are undertaking serious risk management, Merrill prefers to spar with reporters and throw public hissy fits. The state has a senate runoff election scheduled for March 31, so of course people are interested in our state’s plans for the election. Well, everyone except Alabama’s top election official, John Merrill.
When AL.com journalist Kyle Whitmire asked Merrill about his plans, he received this peevish response:
“I’m going to tell you why we’re not going to talk about that,” Merrill said. “Because we don’t need for people to be concerned about something that may not ever happen. The story that you’re thinking about writing is not even important.”
“We follow the lead of the governor,” Merrill said. “We follow the lead of (State Health Officer) Dr. Scott Harris. We follow the lead of the Alabama Department of Health. When they tell us that we have a concern. That’s when we’ll introduce that to everybody.”
I asked him what the that was they’d introduce. Is there a secret plan?
“We’ll respond,” he said.
“We’ll respond accordingly based on what information we have,” he said.
Merrill wouldn’t tell me any more than that.
“We don’t have any (coronavirus cases) yet,” he said. “So we don’t need to have our people have an increased level of anxiety.”
I don’t know about y’all, but having John Merrill as our Secretary of State already increases my level of anxiety. Somehow the acronym for “Secretary of State” – SOS – really seems to fit.
Apparently, having a reporter actually report what a state official said about a pressing public health and election related-issue is a much bigger problem than actually preparing some sort of risk management/mitigation plan for not only the Senate runoff election but also the November general election. We know how much Republicans love voter suppression, but this is a bit much. In an official press release from the SOS office, Merrill hurled insults instead of outlining solutions:
The Office of the Alabama Secretary of State will continue to operate under the parameters of the law, despite what other states across the country are doing or what Kyle Whitmire wants.
In Alabama, our Legislature has already provided a mechanism to confront situations of detriment to the state. Our Governor has broad and expanse emergency powers. Understanding Governor Ivey’s concern and care for the people of Alabama, I am confident that, if deemed necessary, the Governor would consult with our office to ensure the March 31 Runoff Election runs smoothly and without issue.
Lastly, I would like Mr. Whitmire to know that I am an Eagle Scout and the Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” and Alabamians can rest assured knowing that our state is taking all precautions to ensure we are well-prepared ahead of any potential virus.
Our plan for changes in the elections process, if necessary, will be revealed at the appropriate time, and not because a reporter believes he or she should prompt that response.
Ok, wait…. Merrill is citing his membership in the Boy Scouts and repeating the motto of “be prepared” to explain his lack of preparation for a possible outbreak in Alabama? And how exactly did Governor Kay Ivey get magically transformed into the Great and Powerful Oz who has to personally instruct Alabama elected officials to do their damn jobs?
This kind of “blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger” response followed by a bizarre tirade of insults, is just the sort of behavior we’ve come to expect for Alabama’s “mini-Trump.” Let’s stroll down memory lane….
- March 2016: The SOS Web site crashed as people attempted to look up the location of their polling places. Naturally, SOS Merrill blamed voters instead of the site that his office was responsible for. “He also drew heavy criticism for responding to one person on Twitter: “Apparently you and several thousand other “people waiting until today to try to find their polling place.”
- July 2018 – Someone was mean to Merrill on Twitter, so looked at the critic’s Twitter profile, and threw a hissy fit over fingernails. I have to include author Rita Mae Brown’s delightful quote from her book “Six of One:” “Any political movement that worries about fingernails ain’t worth two shits.”
Here’s some advice for our Secretary of State:
Stop acting like a child and blaming others for your inability or lack of motivation and do your job. This is a serious situation. Remember you’re supposed to be a public servant, not a public whiner.