Judicial Watch targets county for voter issues

Published 9:12 am Thursday, July 19, 2012

By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal

The office of the Alabama Secretary of State does not believe Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Perry, Washington and Wilcox counties to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

But Judicial Watch is not so sure.

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“Based on the conversations with the county registrars, I have concluded that the boards in question have performed their voter list maintenance duties to the best of their abilities based on the information provided them regarding individuals who may no longer be qualified to vote in their jurisdiction,” wrote Ed Packard, supervisor of voter registration, in a letter dated May 24th on behalf of Secretary of State Beth Chapman.

A letter dated April 13 from Judicial Watch President Thomas J. Fitton to Charles Martindale, chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Registrars, questioned the accuracy of the Lowndes County voters list.

“Based on our review of 2010 Census data and publicly available eligible voter list information, it appears that Lowndes County is failing to comply with the voter registration list maintenance requirements of Section 8 of the NVRA,” Fitton wrote.

“For example, it appears there are more people registered to vote in Lowndes County than there are adults over the age of 18 living there,” Fitton said. “Even if every single eligible voter in these counties were registered to vote, the eligible voter list would still appear to contain the names of voters who have either moved out of the county or are dead.”

According to Fitton, the letter was sent to Martindale on behalf of his organization and others “similarly aggrieved” and True the Vote.

He said True the Vote is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to ensure fair and legal elections.

Fitton said in order to avoid litigation, he hoped the county would take steps to comply and respond in writing within 45 days or by May 28.

“We responded at the end of that 45 days that we were following all the steps that we could to maintain an accurate voting list,” Martindale said. “Now they’re complaining that we don’t maintain death listings. We get a listing every week, every Friday from the Department of Public Health giving us names of people who have been reported deceased. We get a supplemental list from the secretary of state’s office about once a month,” he said.

Martindale said law requires you have to live in the county. But he said the courts say if you have intent to return to the county, you may register there.

“I do not believe that discrepancy between voter registration levels and voting age population necessarily means that a violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act has occurred,” Packard said in his written response to Fitton.

Packard’s response on behalf of the secretary of state was copied to Choctaw, Greene, Hale, Lowndes, Macon, Perry, Washington and Wilcox counties.

“Well, we received responses from the counties and secretary of state which we thought were not sufficient and we are considering next steps,” Fitton said. “Our hope is that the next step would include them being responsive a bit more to our concern, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“All we want is for the election rolls to be clean. We’re not looking for a fight necessarily. What we’re looking for is action and end results,” Fitton said. “And we’re not seeing sufficient results based on our information here.”