MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Montgomery mayoral candidate David Woods is seeking a temporary restraining order in the Montgomery County Circuit Court against the Montgomery Election Center. The center is where ballot boxes are brought and counted.
The filing comes after the Montgomery Election Center decided to bar the public and campaign poll watchers from accessing the center during Tuesday’s municipal runoff election. The announcement came one day before the election, and the center is typically open to the public and media on election night.
Public viewing of the returns will be held at Montgomery City Hall’s Council Auditorium on N. Perry Street starting at 7 p.m.
Only “essential election personnel” will be allowed inside, which includes the employees of Montgomery Probate Judge Steven Reed, the other candidate in the mayoral election. The election center made the recommendation for public closure and the city agreed, according to a news release from the city Monday.
The petition for the TRO states, “various, well documented ‘irregularities’ arose during the general election.” Those irregularities, which Director of Elections Darryl Parker referred to it as a “calamity of errors,” led to major delays in getting results the night of the election and prompted an investigation by Secretary of State John Merrill’s office, though nothing criminal was found.
The petition states Brenda Blalock, the city clerk for Montgomery, notified the Woods campaign on Thursday of her intention to prohibit campaign watchers from being present in the election center during polling place hours, which the petition asserts violates Alabama law.
The petition says Blalock has not provided a legitimate reason for the closure of the center, and that not allowing a Woods campaign poll-watcher within the election center during polling hours violates Woods’ rights as a candidate for office. The petition says Blalock must allow the public and a Woods’ campaign representative into the center during polling hours and at all times provided by Alabama statute.
Reed issued a statement about the TRO request:
“David Woods knows perfectly well that all relevant personnel are still allowed in the Elections center. This is nothing but a publicity gimmick by a desperate candidate. Tactics like this are part of the politics of the past and serve no other purpose than to divide our city at a time when we all desperately need to come together.”
Woods will face Reed in the Tuesday election. Reed’s office oversees the county elections.