Absentee ballot fraud a class C felony

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2012

With rumors circulating about whether or not candidates and voters properly used absentee ballots in the 2012 local municipal elections, the law is clear about what is considered a violation of the use of absentee voting.

“If your ballot is challenged in court, you can be sentenced to time and fined,” said Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough. “It is a Class C felony.”

Legitimate reasons voters can apply for an absentee ballots are if a voter will be out of the city, county or state on election day; if a physical illness or infirmity prevents attendance at the polls; if a voter works a shift with 10 hours that coincide with poll times; if a voter is enrolled at a school outside the county; if a voter is displaced because they are a member of, or spouse or dependent of a member of, the Armed Forces of the United States; or if the voter is appointed as an election officer at a polling place which is not where they are assigned to vote.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It’s definitely not for laziness or to better your chances of winning,” Scarbrough said. “It’s a crime to violate the law. It’s fraud.”

And Scarbrough said punishment isn’t just for the person who fills out a ballot. Any person who willfully aids another person to unlawfully vote an absentee ballot, any person who knowingly and unlawfully votes an absentee ballot, and any voter who votes both an absentee and regular ballot at any election shall be similarly punished.

While only three absentee ballots were counted in Goshen and the town rarely sees an influx of absentee ballots, according to Town Clerk Traci Shiver, absentee ballots were high in Troy and also helped solidify some Brundidge races.

In Troy, no absentee ballots were filled out in District 3, but there were 66 submitted from District 1 and a whopping 236 were returned in District 5.

Brundidge saw 26 absentee ballots in District 1, 35 in District 2, 14 in District 3, 58 in District 4, and 82 in District 5.

Scarbrough said she’s heard “terrible stories” from other areas where candidates tried to get ballots for people who were on ventilators or in comas.

“I’m not saying that’s happened here,” Scarbrough said. “But it would be a serious offense. Being convicted of a felony that will follow you for the rest of your life is not worth the vote you risk by casting or encouraging votes to be cast illegally.”

Scarbrough said it is up to candidates or affiliated parties to challenge an election. She also has a reminder for voters prior to the November General Election.

“Do not let your signature or your loved ones signature be on the bottom of a falsified Absentee Ballot Application,” Scarbrough said.