Elections

Phenix City clerk said poll violation was an ‘isolated incident’

This social media photo taken during the Aug. 24 Phenix City municipal election appears to show a vote being cast outside of the Spencer Recreation precinct.
This social media photo taken during the Aug. 24 Phenix City municipal election appears to show a vote being cast outside of the Spencer Recreation precinct. Facebook

Phenix City election officials investigating a possible poll violation during last week’s municipal election determined it was an isolated case and took corrective action, City Clerk Charlotte L. Sierra said on Friday.

A photo posted on social media during the Aug. 23 election appears to show a woman filling out a ballot while sitting inside her vehicle. The photo has been circulating on Facebook as recently as this week and the Ledger-Enquirer was unable to identify the source.

The picture was taken outside the Spencer Recreation Center, one of three Phenix City polling places, Sierra confirmed. She said it was brought to her attention on Election Day and immediately addressed.

“With the assistance of Judge (Alford) Harden, the poll worker was advised, in the clearest of terms, that that was never to happen again,” Sierra said. “There are no provisions in the law to allow for that. Poll workers may assist the voter, if requested, inside the polls.”

Because it was a municipal election, the voting was administered by Sierra and the city. All other elections in Phenix City and Russell County are administered by Harden, the county’s probate judge. Harden did advise and work with the city during the election, as he did four years ago.

Harden confirmed Sierra’s account of the incident and offered additional details.

“The woman had just left the hospital and was unable to come inside and vote,” Harden said. “The poll worker allowed her to vote and the photo indicates that.”

The voter showed identification just as if she had been inside the polling place, Harden said.

There were three races on the ballot at the Spencer Recreation Center, which is located in south Phenix City. Mayor Eddie Lowe won re-election over challenger Jerry Barbaree; incumbent Councilmember Arthur Day won re-election in District 3; and Griff Gordy defeated Sabrina Sumbry in the at-large council race.

Sierra said she was confident this was an “isolated incident.”

“Had it happened more than this one time there would be multiple pictures, thanks to everyone having a smartphone,” she said. “It would not be the same picture being posted and reposted on Facebook.”

Sierra said she is not aware of any formal complaints being filed over the incident.

Chuck Williams: 706-571-8510, @chuckwilliams

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