Red flags raised over Lowndes Co. absentee ballots - Montgomery Alabama news.

Red flags raised over Lowndes Co. absentee ballots

Lowndes County Courthouse Lowndes County Courthouse

A day after the primary runoff election in Lowndes County, citizens and elections officials are raising red flags over suspiciously high absentee ballots.

Some Lowndes County residents say there's something fishy going on with the county reporting over 1400 absentee ballots for the primary runoff election. 

 "Sounds kind of suspicious," Lowndes County resident Mary Brown said.

"That's hard to believe, over 1,000!" Lowndes County resident Mary Aaron said.

After calling several local circuit clerk's offices and confirming with the Secretary of State's office, it appears Lowndes county has the highest number of absentee ballots in central Alabama.

The county, which has a population of around 11,000 residents of which 9,200 are registered "active" voters, saw a whopping 1,427 absentee ballots submitted. There were 1,555 absentee applications. The county with the second highest number of absentee ballots in Central Alabama was Elmore County with 76 submissions. That county had 94 applications. Montgomery County reported 61 of 94 applications. Butler County reported 28 absentee ballots rendered. Dallas County only had four. Crenshaw County reported none.

Prior to the election, Secretary of State Beth Chapman's office expected a light, 2-4 %statewide. She said Tuesday that turnout was actually lower, coming in at around 1%.

"It's just my prayer that there hasn't been any misconduct," Aaron said.

The low turnout is blamed on the  fact that there was only one statewide race on the ballot, though there were numerous local races including three on the Lowndes County ballot.

A dark cloud was already hanging over the County after the County Commission Chairman was accused of handing out racially-toned political flyers over the weekend. Commissioner Charlie King, Jr. denied any connection to the flyer, but later changed his statement when confronted with video evidence to the contrary.

At last count, with 86 percent of precincts available for reporting, WSFA 12 News' election results showed King behind his opponent in the race by a 10 point margin.

Secretary of State Chapman and many residents say are very concerned about the overwhelmingly high number of absentee ballots.

Reporter: any possible misconduct? Circuit Clerk: It's possible!

Lowndes County Circuit Clerk Ruby Jones-Thomas says in her 16 years as clerk, this is the first time it has been this high for a primary runoff election.

"I really can't explain it," Jones-Thomas said.

She couldn't justify the numbers, but offered this reason:

"The majority of our absentees, I believe the reason is they would be out of county. All I can say is that was the information that was on the application," Jones-Thomas said.

Some residents find that hard to believe.

"Ummmm, no, not as small as Lowndes is," Brown said.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman says that's very unusual for a small county runoff election with about 9,000 voters not to mention voter turnout was only about 1%.

"If there are complaints within the election process, we will certainly address those from this office and work with the Attorney General's office," Chapman said.

Thomas admitted the state's Attorney General's office confiscated absentee ballot applications and records four years ago.

"But I didn't hear anything from that investigation," Jones-Thomas said.

WSFA 12 News has not been able to confirm that yet with the Attorney General's office.

She says it's her job to process complete applications and hope that voters are being honest.

Several messages were left for Lowndes County Probate Judge John Hulett it was relayed to me that this public official does not talk to reporters.

We want to reiterate - there is no "official" investigation with the Secretary of State nor the Attorney General's office at this time.

Copyright 2012  WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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