Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has opened an investigation into two counties suspected of massive voter fraud. The investigation comes after an inordinately high amount of ballots were returned in Wilcox and Perry Counties, which both lean highly in favor of Democrats, in Tuesday’s primary runoff election.
The Secretary of State’s office became aware of possible voter fraud after being made aware of irregularities by voters in both counties. Once you get down to the numbers, it is easy to tell why there was suspicion.
In Wilcox County, 4,167 of 9,383 registered voters turned out to vote. While 4,167 ballots were returned in total, less than 100 of those ballots were Republican ballots.
Comparing this primary to the 2016 general election, it is easy to tell where the discrepancy comes from. In 2016, Wilcox County had 64.78% turnout, with 4,329 votes going to Hillary Clinton and 1,737 going to Donald Trump. While the district clearly leans democrat, it doesn’t seem likely that over 4,000 Democrats voted on Tuesday, while less than 100 Republicans voted in the same county.
The Secretary of State’s Office believes that the inordinate amount of Democrat ballots could be because of an “absentee broker operation.” That method of committing voter fraud involves exchanging gifts or cash in exchange for absentee ballots that the buyer could then fill out however they like.
Perry County faced a similar situation, but had suspicions raised prior to the election results coming in, with intimidation tactics being reported. In Perry County only 200 Republicans showed up to vote in a race where only state-wide races were on the ballot. But in contrast, 2,763 ballots were cast by Democrats, where a Circuit Court race was seen as the most contentious race. The Circuit Court race resulted in Mia Jacobs-Turner winning by 95 votes against her opponent.
According to AL.com, Perry County absentee ballot manager Mary Moore admitted that there was “a high number of absentees” in the race, stating that there seems to be reasons to question the results.
Along with the irregularities in the vote count, Merrill stated that there were more than 200 absentee ballots in Perry County that “did not meet” the state’s standards. Some of the ballots were returned unsealed, meaning that they could have been tampered with.
An election observer in the county also blew the whistle to the Secretary of State, recounting threats she received from a Perry County Commissioner that was unnamed.
“I had a county commissioner threaten me and my election observers saying that if they didn’t let the votes count, they would have them arrested in Perry County,” Merrill stated. “I told them that he was not going to have anyone arrested and that we would follow the law and that everyone who participated would be following the law.”
Voter fraud in Alabama is not a new thing. There have been cases of absentee ballot fraud going back to the 1990’s, with the majority of the incidents occurring in the part of the state where both Perry and Wilcox County sit, known as the “Black Belt.”
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