Authorities in Phenix City said Tuesday they were still searching for a 38-year-old woman in connection with an absentee voter fraud investigation.
Charise Hill is wanted on charges of forgery and absentee ballot fraud, Police Chief Ray Smith said. Hill's last known address was in Phenix City, but authorities said they were unsure of her whereabouts and urged her to turn herself in on the felony charges.
Hill was indicted last week with two other women, Stephanie Elias and Sheila Pritchett, on charges they forged applications for absentee ballots ahead of the municipal election. Smith said about 10 fraudulent applications in all were detected.
Russell County District Attorney Ken Davis said last week the case came to light when officials discovered duplicate applications for absentee ballots. Someone apparently was going to intercept the ballots when they were sent out and use them, he said.
"There were more than one application submitted allegedly by the same person," Davis said, "so it was apparent that there was something wrong."
Law enforcement officers cracked down on potential fraud this election season in light of repeated complaints and the city's history of abuse when it comes to absentee ballots.
While absentee ballots have played an outsized role in past elections -- even determining races at times -- they were nearly a non-factor Tuesday.
Elections officials tallied a total of 272 absentee votes -- a fraction of the 647 counted in 2008 and 663 in 2004. Smith said none of the 50 or so absentee ballots discarded Tuesday were tossed out because of allegations of voter fraud. Those ballots weren't counted because of other disqualifying issues, he said.
"We've been watching them the whole time," Smith said of the absentee ballots.
Local law enforcement officials weren't the only authorities keeping an eye on Tuesday's election. The polls also were monitored by representatives of the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.