Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill is speaking out against a new reform in voter registration that could lead to a great increase in the amount of registered voters, Slate reports.
The measure would automatically register eligible citizens “who interact with government agencies” to vote. Additionally, it would ensure that voter-registration information be transferred to election officials electronically, leaving less room for error in the process, according to the Brennan Center.
However, Merrill is opposed to the initiative because, he says, it “cheapen[s] the work” of civil rights activists, adding that “just because you turned 18 doesn’t give you the right [to vote].”
“These people fought, some of them were beaten, some of them were killed because of their desire to ensure that everybody that wanted to had the right to register to vote and participate in the process,” Merrill explained in an interview with the voting rights initiative, Answering the Call.
Merrill continued, “I’m not going to embarrass them by allowing someone that’s too sorry to get up off of their rear end to go register to vote … because they think they deserve the right because they turned 18.”
He explains that automatically registering young citizens to vote is “no different than giving them a trophy because they played on the ball team.”
Alabama is one of 14 states to enact voting restrictions ahead of the 2016 Presidential Election. The Brennan Center explains how the move is one put in place to “curtail voting rights.”
Restrictions in Alabama include a photo ID law, which requires voters to bring a government-issued photo ID to the polls in order to cast a ballot, the New York Times reported last year.
If the technology is available to ensure that more Americans have easier access to voter registration, Merrill opposing the measure only furthers unnecessary hurdles.
You can listen to his full remarks in the video below.