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Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen testifies on election integrity in Congressional hearing

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen testified this week before a U.S. Senate Committee, urging its members to remove “excessive federal regulations” that he said compromise the state’s ability to improve election integrity.

Dubbed the ‘administration of upcoming elections,’ the hearing was held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, which among other tasks, deals with matters related to contested elections. 

The hearing saw several secretaries of state from across the country testify, including Allen, who laid out several federal regulations that he considered to be “obstacles” to improving Alabama’s election process.

More specifically, Allen called on the committee’s members to consider advocating for shortening the minimum period in which states are required to wait, per federal law, before removing individuals from the voter rolls after moving out of state.

“To date, we have, through (the Alabama Voter Integrity Database), identified 109,709 Alabama voters who have likely relocated outside of the state,” Allen said. 

“But, unlike deceased voters, we can not immediately remove them from the Alabama voter file. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 mandates that we wait four years to make such a removal.”

Also known as the Motor Voter Act, NVRA was designed to increase the accessibility of voter registration by mandating that motor vehicle agencies, such as facilities of states’ departments of motor vehicles, offer registration opportunities for citizens. 

The bill included several other provisions, including the prohibition of states purging their voter rolls of former residents who had moved out of state for at least four years, a provision that Allen said should be reconsidered.

“If I could make a recommendation to this body to increase confidence in our elections, it would be to shorten the four-year waiting period mandated by the NVRA, especially considering the fact that state-to-state movers account for 19.9% of all relocations according to the U.S. Census Bureau,” Allen said. 

“The four year waiting period allows an individual to remain in a voter file in a state in which they no longer live for several elections. Four years is, quite frankly, too long. Amending the NVRA to shorten the four-year waiting period would certainly increase voter confidence, decrease bloated voter files and result in more accurate voter files across the nation.”

Since the launch last year of AVID, Alabama’s new voter verification system, Allen said at the hearing that his office had been able to cross-check state voter rolls with data from the U.S. Social Security Administration, improving the ability to purge deceased voters from the rolls.

However, not every state is permitted to access the same federal data, something Allen also urged committee members to consider pursuing.

“Immediately removing deceased Alabamians from our voter file not only instills confidence but also allows us to maintain a more accurate voter file,” he said. 

“Every state should be able to do this, but excessive federal regulations make it more difficult than it should be for states to access this important information. You, as members of the U.S. Senate, can remove those obstacles and make this information immediately available to every secretary of state in this nation.”

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