Federal Obstacles in Election Fraud Investigation

Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) -- The run-off elections are just three weeks away and already there maybe problems. Alabama's Attorney General says he wants honest elections and hopes to resolve complaints about voter fraud before the runoff voting.

Residents in Lowndes, Bullock and Perry counties complained about voter irregularities during the June 3rd primary and it looks like those complaints may not be resolved by the July 15th run-off.

While most voters were doing the right thing during the June 3rd primary election, Secretary of State Beth Chapman says there are allegations about folks in some counties who were not on the up and up. "The reports we received in our office were from a federal observer who reported and I quote that 'A candidate in Perry county has free reign of the polling place.'"

One candidate, Albert Turner, admits he was in and out of a polling place all day. "That voter asked me to carry them to them polls. Asked me to assist them while they were voting. After I completed their request I left. I had a right to assist voters. They asked for my assistance. Nothing in the law against that."

There were even complaints, by voters like Vinnie Royster, about candidates paying voters to go to the polls. "If you see a person sitting inside his van, these people probably been paid. Been paid? That's a serious accusation. Well, you have them get out to tell us - we could have voted on you team but y'all wasn't giving us anything."

Because of complaints like these, the Attorney General wants to know what the federal observers saw and heard in Perry county during the primary election on June 3rd.  "In spite of these concerns the department of justice officials have refused to cooperate with our office in any way."

The Attorney General says he was told to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act. He says he did, but it could be months before the Justice Department repsonds and the run-off is three weeks away. "We won't be seeking to reverse an election. We'll be seeking to put people in jail so they can't steal elections anymore.  And, to send a message out across this state that whoever you are and wherever you are and however long you've been doing this, the day of doing it are numbered and they're over."

There are also complaints about the number of absentee ballots cast. The Secretary of State says more than a thousand were cast in Perry County which is one of the smallest counties. Compare that, she says, to 14 absentee ballots submitted in Jefferson county - the largest county. That's why the Attorney General wants anyone with knowledge of wrongdoing to call his hotline at 1-800-831-8814.

The Justice Department says the federal observer reports are not released to anyone while they're still under review.

Voter fraud is also the topic of a rally in Perry county later this week. The Democracy Defense League is organizing the rally at the Marion Military Institute Chapel, Thursday at 5:30. WSFA 12 News learned Monday, Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman plans to speak at the rally.

Reporter: Eileen Jones