PHENIX CITY, Ala. — Reports of voter fraud are causing a shake-up in the district 2 city council special election.
The city found at least 32 cases of residents registering to vote under their business addresses. Phenix City Police Chief Ray Smith said the department is looking into reports of 20 more voters who registered incorrectly.
All of the ineligible voters who spoke with News 3 Tuesday said they’ve been voting for years using their business address to register.
The most recent election pitted Baxley Oswalt against Vicky Carter Johnson for the district 2 city council position.
Johnson fell 10 votes short from winning the majority vote during an election involving voter fraud complaints.
According to Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill, you must be registered at your domicile, which is the place you reside.
“I’ve been voting here from this address for 15 years. I didn’t realize I was doing anything wrong,” Girlfriends Restaurant and Catering owner Carol Argo said.
Argo was one of the 32 names disclosed as an ineligible voter since she lives outside the city. She told News 3 she’s voted for mayors, city councilors and even presidents while being registered at her business.
“I am concerned about what goes on here and what goes on in the city,” Argo said. “It does affect my business and that’s why I wanted to be registered here.”
According to Argo, the board of registrars told her she was allowed to use the business address as a place to register.
City councilors, along with Mayor Eddie Lowe, met Tuesday morning to discuss steps the city is now required to take.
“A letter was sent from my acting clerk to the register office that they have to remove those names and from that stand point the city doesn’t have anything to do with it,” Mayor Lowe said.
Mayor Lowe said they also sent a letter to the Alabama attorney general to get his opinion on the definition of domicile.
Argo believes the definition should include a person’s place of business.
“I am in this business more than I am in my home so basically I do live here and I do feel like I should have a say,” she said.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, City Manager Wallace Hunter said he believes some business owners were not aware of the domicile law, but that a few people tried to control the outcome of the election by getting business owners to vote.
The runoff election between Oswalt and Carter Johnson is set for December 19.