King’s election contest lawsuit dismissed in Montgomery County Circuit Court

Published 5:11 pm Wednesday, May 25, 2016

By Fred Guarino

The Lowndes Signal

A lawsuit filed by Charlie King Jr. seeking a contest and recount of the March 1 Lowndes County Democratic Party Primary election for the Lowndes County Commission District 2 seat was  dismissed by a Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge on Tuesday.

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According to court documents, Circuit Judge J.R. Gaines ordered, adjudged and decreed that motion to dismiss King’s lawsuit be granted because, “Mr. King did not follow Sec. 17-13-78, Code of Alabama 1975, and the By-Laws of the Alabama Democratic Party, Article 7 Sec. 2.”

However, in his order dismissing the lawsuit, Gaines further ordered that the Lowndes County Democratic Executive Committee return King’s fee in the amount of $2,050 “since his request was not honored due to the deficiencies.”

According to court documents, the matter came before the court on several motions to dismiss, and the parties were present and the court heard arguments and testimony on May 18.

Alleging voter fraud and seeking a contest and recount of the election, King was represented by attorney Julian L. McPhillips Jr. of Montgomery, who conducted a press conference in front of the Lowndes County Courthouse to announce the lawsuit on April 14.

“All we are trying to do is get this hearing and determine whether or not the recount and the contest is due to be heard,” McPhillips said at that time.

Defendants named in the lawsuit included, Eli Seaborn, chairman of the Lowndes County Democratic Executive Committee, the Alabama State Democratic Executive Committee, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and District 2 Lowndes County Commissioner Carnell McAlpine.

McAlpine narrowly defeated  King 689 votes to 636 for County Commission District 2 on March 1. King picked up one provisional vote to zero for McAlpine to make it a 52 vote win for McAlpine with 689 votes to 637 for King.

“We think it is fundamental democracy, fundamental fairness, fundamental due process of law.  And we say that one man, Mr. Seaborn and his committee can’t just ignore the law and ignore the contest. There are legitimate grounds to contest this,” McPhillips said on April 14.

According to McPhillips, King alleged “operatives” of the campaign for McAlpine were observed engaging in “improper activities including the improper gathering of absentee ballots and the notarizing of absentee ballots not in the presence of the absentee voters themselves,” as well as the gathering of unsealed absentee ballots and causing them to be cast and counted as part of the total 820 absentee ballots for all elections. He alleged County Commission District 3 candidate Brenson Crenshaw, “a friend of Mr. Alpine’s” had access to about 176 ballots delivered from the post office to the absentee ballots managers office. And he alleged there are witnesses who can testify to “rampant voter fraud, which overcame the will of the voters of Lowndes County.”

McPhillips said King alleged that as many as 60 absentee ballots mailed or delivered to absentee ballot managers were never counted.

McPhillips said of the election at the time, “It was close enough that we think a recount and a contest could very well change the result of this election and cause Charlie King Jr. to be elected County Commission District 2 Commissioner.”

He also said, “We filed this in Montgomery by the way because there are two defendants in this case who are residents of Montgomery… the state executive committee and the secretary of state.

McAlpine said following the dismissal of King’s lawsuit, “It’s been an experience for me. I know I hadn’t done anything, and it’s been a costly thing for me.”

McAlpine said he had to hire an attorney to defend himself when, “The Democratic (Executive) Committee was the one that wouldn’t hear his (King’s) contest.”

King served on the Lowndes County Commission for 28 years prior to losing to McAlpine for the first time in 2012.