Late Wednesday, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office issued a statement claiming what it described as a “misleading” ad from the Birmingham-based pro-Doug Jones super PAC Highway 31 was removed by Google at its behest.
According to the release, the office headed by John Merrill required “several intense discussions,” but resulted in Google removing the ad.
“Secretary Merrill’s team contacted the Media and Advertising team at Google (YouTube’s parent company) and through several intense discussions and many references to Alabama State Law the team at Google felt the ad should be “disapproved” and that it was in violation of the AdWords advertising policies.”
“If you don’t vote, and Roy Moore – a child predator – wins, could you live with that? Your vote is public record, and your community will know whether or not you helped stop Roy Moore,” a female narrator says.
Not much is known about the Highway 31 super PAC and who is financing its efforts. However, the group reportedly has ties to former Obama presidential campaign associates.
Full statement as follows:
Secretary of State Works with Google to Remove Misleading Highway 31 Advertisement From the Internet
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 6, 2017 – MONTGOMERY – Recent reports to the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office indicated the existence of an ad that was targeting Alabamians with incorrect or inaccurate information intent on confusing voters. The ad made claims that the candidate a voter casts their ballot for would be made public and would be shared with members of their community.
This ad was reported to be on YouTube among other digital platforms. Once the ad was reported Secretary Merrill instructed his team to work quickly to ensure Alabamians were not confused or dissuaded from participating in our democratic process due to misinformation or fear of retribution for how they chose to cast their ballot.
Secretary Merrill’s team contacted the Media and Advertising team at Google (YouTube’s parent company) and through several intense discussions and many references to Alabama State Law the team at Google felt the ad should be “disapproved” and that it was in violation of the AdWords advertising policies.
The ad has been removed by Google and was done so at the request of the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.
Secretary Merrill expressed appreciation that the company was willing to listen and understood the gravity of the voting process and how delicate it can be.
A copy of the original release (12/5/2017) is available below:
In the Alabama Secretary of State Office’s continued efforts to empower and encourage all Alabama residents to participate in the electoral process, one issue our office must work toward is the reconciliation of any instance whereby voter confusion is presented.
Reports from several sources indicate a targeted effort to misinform and confuse voters regarding whether an individuals’ voting record would be available to the public. No individual voting record is made available to anyone at anytime, including the voter who cast the ballot.
When voters cast a ballot the State of Alabama’s voter registration system is updated to document the election that a voter participated in but no record is ever made documenting the candidate for whom the ballot was cast.
In the Alabama Primary and Primary Run-off Elections a record is made which would indicate whether a voter had voted in either the Democrat or Republican party race but the name of the candidate for whom the voter cast their ballot is never recorded.
Additionally, in Alabama, voters do not provide political party affiliation when they register to vote because the state does not track that information.