Phenix City police are asking the Russell County Board of Registrars to remove 82 names from the voter list prior to next month’s runoff to elect a city council member, Chief Ray Smith said on Thursday.
The voters are registered to vote at a place of business and not a residence, which is not legal in Alabama, Smith said.
In a Nov. 14 special election to fill the seat vacated by the death of Johnnie Robinson, Vickey Carter Johnson was the leading vote getter with 240 votes, or 49 percent; Baxley Oswalt had 225 votes, or 46 percent. The race was thrown into a runoff because Steve Franklin picked up 26 votes, or 5 percent.
The issue of people potentially voting out of district was raised on Nov. 20 at a Phenix City Council work session. At that time, council was informed the Police Department was investigating.
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On Monday, the Phenix City-Russell County NAACP held a news conference Monday demanding a thorough, unbiased investigation into alleged voting irregularities in the recent District 2 City Council election.
Thursday’s information came during a meeting with NAACP officials to update the progress on the investigation into the voter fraud allegations. The Ledger-Enquirer did not attend the meeting in the conference room off the city manager’s office, but watched it on a live social media feed.
“Some individuals have voted out of district for years,” City Manager Wallace Hunter said. “We know people who have been doing that for a long time. That doesn’t make it legal.”
City officials do not know how many of the 84 people who are registered at business addresses, but reside elsewhere, including Columbus, Lee County, Auburn, Russell County and as far away as Ozark, Ala., voted in the special election.
There were 15 people who registered at business addresses since Robinson died in August, Smith said. He did not say if any of those 15 individuals voted. Five voters lived in the district, despite being registered at a location other than their residence, Smith said. Those people will be allowed to vote in the runoff.
There are more than 7,000 registered voters in the district, which cuts through the center of Phenix City. The voter rolls for District 1 on the south side and District 3 on the north, will be verified for similar issues before the next municipal election, Smith said.
“If you do not live in District 2, you should be disqualified,” Smith said.
All 82 of those registered to vote out of district will be notified in a letter from Mayor Eddie Lowe, Smith said. The mayor and city clerk are charged with conducting the municipal election, Smith said.