SYLACAUGA, Ala. – Sylacauga hosted one of the most important political figures in the state of Alabama on Monday. Secretary of State John Merrill made the drive north from Montgomery to speak to the Talladega County Republican Party and the Sylacauga Kiwanis and Rotary Clubs at the Sylacauga Board of Education building.

Merrill was invited to Sylacauga by Gina Grant, Chairman of the Talladega County Republican Party. Guests had an opportunity to meet and talk with Merrill before he began his speech. He said he made a stop in all 67 counties every year as Secretary of State and made 350 different stops across the state in 2016. Those stops in the past were very similar to Monday’s visit to the Marble City.

“Today [we are] trying to make sure everybody in the state knows about the things going on in the office of the Secretary of State and allowing them to make suggestions,” Merrill said.

He spoke extensively about the importance of being good stewards with taxpayer money. Grant said one of Merrill’s biggest impacts as Secretary of State is how much he has saved. She said since January 2015, Merrill’s efforts have saved Alabamians more than $1.8 million. He also touched on what he considers to be his most impactful accomplishment since becoming the 53rd Secretary of State: new voter registration processes and high voter turnout in recent elections.

“Everybody that wants to participate in the election process needs to be given the opportunity participate, and that starts with voter registration,” stated Merrill. “So our efforts have been designed to make sure each and every eligible US citizen that is a resident of our state is registered to vote.”

Merrill said his efforts seem to be working. He said 87% of African Americans and 84% of whites are registered to vote in Alabama while 2.1 million people voted in November’s elections. Public perception of new voter ID laws in Alabama have been frowned upon by some and praised by many, but Merrill described them as necessary.

“We want to make it real easy to vote and very hard to cheat,” Merrill explained. “Anytime anybody can hurt the integrity or credibility of the election, it hurts the entire process for everyone.”

While chaos continues to swirl around Gov. Robert Bentley in the state capitol, rumors of his impeachment continue to spread. When asked if he would ever run for governor, Merrill did not deny the possible next step.

“My goal has been and remains to be viewed as the best Secretary of State the state has ever had,” proclaimed Merrill. “I feel like if we accomplish that goal, then we’re going to have people look at us and offer us the opportunity to serve them in a different capacity.”

Merrill told SylacaugaNews.com he will return to Montgomery Monday night before making more trips around the rest of the state.

Jeremy Law for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.