FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 17, 2017 - MONTGOMERY - At the conclusion of the 2017 United States Senate Special Election Run-off, the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office reviewed a formal, routine election report indicating that 674 individuals had been given credit for voting in the Democrat primary election on August 15th and then voting in the Republican run-off election on September 26. This action, termed Crossover Voting, is an action which would violate the State’s new Crossover Voting law (Act No. 2017-340).
After reviewing the report, Secretary of State John Merrill identified the local chief election official - the Probate Judge - as the proper authority to determine whether those listed were willful in their intent, negligent, or whether these findings were listed in error in each county where the incident occurred. The Elections Division of the Office of the Secretary of State then delivered a report of those 674 names to the affected Probate Judge (Chief Election Officials at the local level) and requested each of the 41 Probate Judges with the county report to review and complete a comprehensive report by November 6, 2017.
Beginning Tuesday November 7, 2017, Secretary Merrill and members of the Elections Division team began reviewing these returned reports from each county. The team combined the responses into a report which indicated 140 confirmed occurrences of crossover voting. Secretary Merrill then personally called and discussed with each of the remaining 20 county Probate Judges to determine what action they recommended be pursued in the 140 confirmed violations of the crossover voting law. These recommended actions could include additional levels of investigation, which could ultimately lead to suggested or recommended prosecution.
After these reviews and the conversations were completed, there were no instances in which a local Probate Judge deemed it necessary to pursue additional investigations that could potentially lead to prosecution. Without new information being introduced in this review, this matter is now considered closed.
"We were very excited to see that our efforts to educate and inform voters, in conjunction and cooperation with local election officials, were successful and that the Probate Judges have determined these findings do not warrant prosecution," said Secretary Merrill.
Reports from Probate Judges on the 534 voters that were initially listed on the report were found to be errors by either the poll worker, another election official, or the voter. Probate Judges found evidence to attribute the errors to Poll Workers or Registrars through scanning errors.
Secretary Merrill received the reports and the recommendations made by the Probate Judges and agreed with the Probate Judges that this information and the names of the crossover voters should be documented and recorded for future reference. Secretary Merrill also encouraged the Probate Judges to continue to work to modernize the election check in process through the utilization of equipment like the electronic poll book that not only expedites the procedure but removes error possibilities through the protocol of the actual check in.
“We recognize and deeply appreciate the time, energy, resources, and commitment made by our elections teams in each county and each county's dedication to safe, secure, credible and fair elections in their communities. The recommendations made by our Probate Judges are enthusiastically received and it should be noted that the Office of the Secretary of State will not forward the names of the crossover voters for prosecution by the local District Attorney or the Attorney General," Merrill said.
Merrill continued, "We want to commend our outstanding local election teams for the educational instruction provided to voters and elections workers in the primary election on August 15, 2017. 589,175 Alabamians participated in the primary election that day, and 480,270 voted in the run-off election on September 26th, and only 674 individuals were reported as having crossed over from the Democratic Primary and illegally voted in the Republican runoff. After a thorough review, only 140 voters were actually determined as having actually crossed over. That is, only .03% of all those that voted were identified as crossover voters. In other words, 99.97% of all voters cast ballots that were error-free and without any concern of impropriety."
This is a great opportunity to remind voters that December 12, 2017 is the day we elect our next Senator from Alabama. The deadline to register to vote in person is by the close of business at your county board of registrars' office (typically 5:00 p.m.), online by 11:59 p.m. or postmarked by November 27, 2017. Voters are reminded that it does not matter how they voted during the primary or primary-runoff election. In the General Election on December 12, all registered voters in Alabama may vote for the candidate of their choice.