What led to the ineligible voters in Phenix City?

Local News

PHENIX CITY, Ala. — The list of illegally registered voters in Phenix City continues to grow following a special election for the district two city council seat.

The most recent election pitted Baxley Oswalt against Vicky Carter Johnson for the city council seat. Johnson was just 10 votes shy from winning the majority vote.

Since the election, News 3 confirmed dozens of voters registered at their business addresses instead of their primary domiciles.

According to Phenix City police, the list of people who voted in the election without living in the area is now at 84 names, which up from 52 last week. Police say that number will likely rise.

Now, the city and county are at odds about how this happened in the first place.

“The city has nothing to do with this,” Mayor Eddie Lowe said last week. “What’s our responsibility is to make sure we’re doing things as the law states. Decent and in order.”

Kenneth Funderburk, the attorney for Russell County, says any blame pointed toward the board of registrars is wrong.

In an email, he said, “In Russell County, the registrar’s office is specifically tasked with the registration of electors in and for Russell County, the registrar’s office is not tasked with making a determination of whether an individual is qualified to vote in a municipal election within the county and certainly not within a particular district of the municipality.”

He also referenced the code of Alabama 11-46-36. It states the municipality has the obligation to prepare, certify and publish the list of electors qualified to vote in the municipal election.

“All the board of registrars are charged with doing is processing the addresses and the paperwork that is submitted to them for voter registration purposes,”  Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said. “When they’re able to confirm it’s a valid address, they’re not in the business of confirming if it’s a residential address or business address.”

News 3 also asked Merrill how using a business address to vote slipped through the cracks for so many years.

“Well apparently it had never been challenged before because it would have to be identified that there was something wrong with the address or that it did not match a residential location in order for someone to bring it to a registrar’s attention and that needs to be corrected now so that they’re not continuing to vote at the wrong location.”

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