Politics

Phenix City leaders meet with NAACP on voter fraud investigation

PHENIX CITY, Ala. -- Progress is being made in the search for ineligible voters registered in Phenix City's District 2.

The Phenix City manager and police chief called a meeting with the Phenix City/Russell County NAACP on Thursday to give an update on the investigation. City Manager Wallace Hunter says he wants to promote complete transparency and called the meeting to address the NAACP's press conference Monday challenging the city's plans to correct the allegations of voter fraud.

"It's always been a history that people didn't get a response. We try to make sure that people get a response. We serve people, we serve the community, the NAACP is part of that community," Hunter tells News 3's Mikhaela Singleton.

WRBL was first to report dozens of cases reported to the city showing voters registered at businesses in District 2 instead of at their homes. Police Chief Ray Smith says tho total is now down slightly to 82 after looking into several people living in hotels. He adds the investigation now takes on two heads -- those who were inadvertently misregistered and those who may have had a more devious intent.

"There's people here that they've been registered at this address for 30 years. If this had never been contested before, they may simply not have known better," Smith says. "It's difficult to call all of these fraud. Of these 82 names, some may just be honest mistakes. Some here they registered when the address was a home and it was later rezoned to commercial and they never updated their information."

However, the investigation also revealed at least 15 names on the list were only registered weeks or months before the election.

"By people misusing this over the last few months, that's a problem. That tells me they registered in this time period with the intent on voting in this election and if they did so knowingly that they should not have been using these addresses, that's what we're going to figure out," Hunter says.

Chief Smith says pursuing a criminal arm to the investigation is something that will have to be reserved until after the current voter record can be thoroughly prepared before December 14 in time for the run-off election December 19.

NAACP leaders say they hope the progress can continue.

"Still have a long way to go, still have some humps to get over, but this particular meeting I am satisfied with what I've heard, with what the city manager's doing, what the police chief is doing, their best to try and rectify this problem on their level that they can do, I'm pleased to hear that," says Rev. Alfonza Seldon, the Phenix City/Russell County NAACP First Vice President.

He adds the NAACP will continue to follow the investigation to ensure no candidate or voter is disenfranchised by illegal voters swaying results.

"An injustice has taken place," Rev. Seldon says. "We want all the people of Phenix City to know we are going to pursue this all the way till the end until we are satisfied justice has been served."

Chief Smith says the list of ineligible voters has been forwarded to the Board of Registrars to be removed. At the same time, the city will take on its responsibility of updating its own voter list via the mayor's office. However, he says many names on the list never should have made it to the registry in the first place.

"There's at least two people on that list that I know personally who have passed away. Well they should be removed from the list, because that'll complicate voting if someone were to try and vote in their name for example," he says.

Chief Smith says he's even found names of convicted felons on the voter registry. He says he's concerned the registrar's office has not been updating and reviewing the list as the law requires.

Alabama Code Title 17-4-3 states:

Each county board of registrars shall purge the computerized statewide voter registration list on a continuous basis, whenever it receives and confirms information that a person registered to vote in that county has died, become a nonresident of the state or county, been declared mentally incompetent, been convicted of any offense mentioned in Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901 since being registered, or otherwise become disqualified as an elector.

Additionally, Alabama Code Title 17-17-6 states "any member of the board of registrars who neglects or willfully refuses" to purge the voter registration list on a regular basis will be guilty of a misdemeanor. The meeting brought up complaints of conflict of interest within the Russell County Board of Registrars.

"You should be able to do your job regardless. Regardless of who you're related to, who's a friend of yours, we have guidelines, policies, rules and regulations and laws, and we should follow. If you're not able to follow them you should give up the position," Hunter says.

News 3 reached out to the Board of Registrars for comment and interview but did not receive a response.

The most recently updated District 2 voter list is available at these locations:

  • Phenix City-Russell County Library (1501 17th Ave.)
  • The Central Activities Center (1500 14th St.)
  • The Phenix City Public Safety Building (1111 Broad St.)
  • City of Phenix City Clerks Office (601 12th St., Third Floor)

Chief Smith encourages all residents to check on their status and report any names on the registry that shouldn't be there to police or the registrar's office. He says all those identified in the voter fraud investigation will receive a letter from the mayor notifying them they will be removed from the voter registry.

Should a person eliminated from the register still attempt to vote on December 19, they may contest their right to vote and submit a provisional ballot. Such ballots will only be included in the final tally after further investigation.

Chief Smith says after his office completes purging the District 2 voter list, they will move on to check Districts 1 and 3 to ensure this does not happen again.


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