By MADDISON BOOTH, Alabama Daily News
AUBURN, Ala. – The June 21 GOP runoff election for secretary of state presents a contrast in styles and experience, if not policy.
Current State Auditor Jim Zeigler and State Rep. Wes Allen, R-Troy, were the top vote earners in May primary’s four-man race. Zeigler earned 42.69% of the vote and Allen earned 39.7%.
Zeigler has built-in name recognition, having run for and served in statewide office at least three times before. Allen, meanwhile, has steadily climbed using his superior fundraising resources to get his name and message out to voters.
The winner of the runoff will face Democrat Pamela Lafitte in November.
Allen was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2018 to serve Alabama’s District 89. Before that, he served a decade as Pike County’s probate judge, a position that gave him hands-on experience administering elections.
In the House, Allen sponsored and passed two bills pertaining to elections. The first was a ban of curbside voting, and the second, known as the “Zuckerbucks Ban,” outlawed private money being used to purchase voting equipment or pay election staff. Both have been signed into law.
“I can honestly say that I am the only candidate for Secretary of State that has done more than talk about election security, I have actually taken concrete action to make our elections more secure,” Allen said.
He said that if elected, one of his first actions would be drafting a bill to present to the Legislature to ensure Alabama is never allowed to use ballot drop-boxes or mass mail-in ballots.
Some of his other priorities include withdrawing the state from the Electronic Registration Information System, a non-profit organization that assists states with keeping accurate voter rolls, and outlawing connecting voting machines to the internet.
Allen’s main strategy at this point in the game though is to continue traveling the state, meeting as many voters as possible, and encouraging them to cast their votes on June 21.
“The right to vote is something that millions of people around the world wish that they had,” he said. “We have that right as Americans, and I would encourage every eligible voter to exercise your right to vote.”
Zeigler is coming to the end of his second term as state auditor, a position in which he has branded himself “The Watchman.”
He said that this notoriety is the reason he was able to overcome a major disadvantage in fundraising. As of last week, Allen had raised $422,505 in this race, compared to Zeigler’s $114,428. According to campaign finance information, available through the secretary of state’s office, Allen had $231,822 cash on hand to Zeigler’s $24,045.
Zeigler is not spending his time focusing on places where he didn’t win the vote in the primary and has confidence that he will get the votes he needs without that kind of campaigning.
“We have more votes than they have money,” Zeigler said.
If elected, Zeigler wants to defend certain practices such as requiring voter identification, in-person voting and allowing only one day to vote in an election.
He said the first bill he would send to the state Legislature would be one to ensure only U.S. citizens are voting in Alabama elections.
“Right now, our voter registration form has a question: ‘Are you a U.S. citizen?’ My first proposed bill would set up a process to actually confirm U.S. citizenship for voter registration,” he said.
Citizenship is a federal requirement for voting.
Zeigler encouraged voters to come out to the polls on June 21.
“Election time is the time for each voter to have his or her say in government,” he said. “If you don’t vote, don’t complain.”