State will monitor Montgomery municipal runoff election

Updated: Sep. 5, 2019 at 11:11 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA)- Teams of observers will monitor the upcoming Montgomery municipal runoff election, Secretary of State John Merrill announced Thursday.

According to Merrill, five teams made up of two people each will observe the nine city council voting districts on election day. These teams will report to polling sites and will be authorized to observe the elections throughout the day.

Merrill says the state is getting involved at the request of the Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange’s office.

There were 12 reports of voter fraud or fraudulent activities made to the secretary of state’s hotline and website following the Montgomery municipal election on Aug. 27, Merrill said. Most of the complaints included delays in reporting and improper use of election equipment.

Montgomery County Election Center Director Darryl Parker previously said a “calamity of errors” was behind the delayed results.

Merrill believes the delays in election reporting were the result of improper training. Merrill also indicated the machines used for voting were not tested prior to the election, which is standard operating procedure.

When asked why the machines weren’t tested Merrill said his office was not given a reason other than, “some of those workers were obviously ill-trained and ill-prepared to do what was necessary in order to be competent administrators of the election at the local site level.”

Merrill said he doesn’t believe there were any true instances of fraud, but the 12 reports do remain under investigation.

LIVE: Sec. of State to discuss Montgomery municipal runoff election.

Posted by WSFA-TV on Thursday, September 5, 2019

“What we do know is that there were some things that happened that made people feel uncomfortable about the way things were reported,” Merrill said.

Merrill says they will do whatever is necessary to preserve the election process.

“We are going to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat,” Merrill said.

Merrill says this is not the first time this has been done. Other municipalities have asked the state to observe an election process including Enterprise, Dothan, Birmingham, Mobile, Lakeview, Tuscaloosa and Bessemer.

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