Lawsuit contests municipal election
by Daniel Gaddy
Oct 31, 2012 | 3114 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Two former candidates in Carbon Hill’s Oct. 9 municipal runoff are now seeking to contest the results of the election.

Jasper attorney Russ Robertson on Wednesday filed motions on behalf of former mayoral candidate Jacque Roberson Allred and former city council candidate Todd Vick. Both motions claim that ballots were left uncounted and felons were allowed to vote. Vick’s motion also claims that at least three qualified voters were turned away from polls.

Both of the former candidates’ motions state that at least 16 provisional ballots were never forwarded to the Walker County Board of Registrars and at least 35 absentee ballots were not counted, despite being received and processed by the City of Carbon Hill and the U.S. Postal Service.

“It’s clear that with ballots not even being sent, that some votes were suppressed,” Robertson said. “I think the people who cast those votes are at least entitled to a legal determination.”

Walker County Circuit Clerk Susan Odom said all of Walker County’s judges have recused themselves from the court preceedings, and a judge will be chosen by the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts.

Carbon Hill attorney Ken Guin represents both winners in the Oct. 9 runoff, Mayor-elect James “Pee Wee” Richardson and District 1 Council Member-elect William Wright.

On Oct. 24, Guin filed a motion to dismiss each of the suits filed by Robertson. It stated that Allred and Vick’s claims were not specific enough in naming the people who were denied the ability to vote or the felons who were allowed to vote.

Guin’s motion also states that both Allred and Vick failed to provide court documents proving that they have the ability to pay the $30,000 bond necessary to challenge the elections.

Without the money for those bonds, Guin’s motion states, the preceeding is outside the jurisdiction of a Walker County court.

Odom said she consulted with the legal department of the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts before putting the bond at $30,000 for each race.

Robertson described the statute concerning such bonds as too vague, and he filed a motion to have the amount reduced for each client. He said he feels the bond should only be required to cover the fees associated with a contest of the election, not an entirely new election. Before Odom set the bonds at $30,000 each, Robertson filed documents that estimated the costs to be $1,500 for each race.

Robertson also filed a motion seeking to allow his clients to examine the ballots cast during the city’s Oct. 9 runoff. Once that is possible, he said, his clients will be able to provide more specifics.