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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill (R) partner to host voting rights history tour

18 secretaries of state to join Merrill, Benson for nonpartisan event

Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill and Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson this week will host a nonpartisan voting rights history tour in Alabama with 18 other secretaries of state from across the nation.

This group of statewide election officials – eight Democrats and 12 Republicans – will spend three days experiencing the history of the voting rights movement.

“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.

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 May 9, 10 and 11 will feature stops in Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma. Participating secretaries of state will visit historical locations and museums that together 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 culminating in a bridge crossing on 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 such as Dr. Bernard Lafayette, visits to places and heritage sites throughout Alabama will be informed by voices of those who are intimately part of this history. Secretaries also will hear from a handful of local elected officials and leaders in Alabama.

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:

  • 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)

 Secretaries of state participating in this tour will share their reflections on this journey on social media using the hashtag #SOSDemocracy2019.

This tour is meant to be personal, meaningful and nonpartisan. Only preapproved media attendees will be allowed to visit with and interact with attending secretaries of state, so requests for interviews are required in advance.


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John Bennett,
(Alabama Secretary of State John H. Merrill)
Shawn Starkey,
(Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson