RUSSELL COUNTY, Ala. (WSFA) - Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has removed a member of the Russell County Board of Registrars from his position, effective immediately.
Registrar Jimmy Adams was terminated after a formal recommendation was made to Merrill’s office by an Administrative Law Judge. That judge determined in a court hearing that Adams was advising voters they could register to vote at places where they do not live.
An investigation was opened into Adams’ actions after a formal complaint was filed against him in February for failing to competently and conscientiously advise potentially qualified electors that the law required them to register where they lived, Merrill’s office said.
In Adams’ case, it was determined he was advising people who didn’t live in Phenix City’s District 2 that they could register to vote in a 2017 special election using a business address rather than a home address. The special election was set to fill a city council seat that had been vacated by the councilman’s death.
“We make it easy to vote and hard to cheat in Alabama. A crucial part of maintaining that is by appointing Board of Registrar members that meet the highest standards. By giving due process and by holding voter registrars accountable for their actions, we preserve the public trust and ensure that elections are fair and equitable to everyone,” Merrill said.
Six witnesses were called by the secretary of state’s office during the hearing.
One witness, an Auburn resident, testified that he called the Russell County Board of Registrars before the election to ask about registration and was told that it was “perfectly legal to register where I work,” adding that “They [Adams and Gary Head, another former registrar] said as long as I did not vote in more than one place, it was ok.”
Head testified that while he told some people “it had been done in the past” when they asked about registering at their businesses, he said he did not tell anyone it was legal to do so.
The judge stated that “it appears there was an overt effort to improperly impact the election result by persons who were not residents domiciled in District 2 in Phenix City by registering to vote at their places of business or employment,” and concluded that “the preponderance of the evidence indicates Adams failed to properly execute the duties of his office.”
While the secretary of state does not supervise members of a Board of Registrars, state law gives the state’s chief elections officer authority to remove a member for cause.