Absentee ballots offered

Published 3:00 am Saturday, September 27, 2014

With the upcoming general election coming up on Nov. 4, many people will be getting ready by picking up an absentee ballot from the Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough’s office, and the clerk is reminding voters of the consequences of voter fraud associated with the absentee voting process.

Absentee ballots can be obtained for anyone who qualifies. “Anybody can pick up one, or if someone needs one we can mail it to them,” Scarbrough said. “They just have to be able to answer yes to one of the items on the ballots, such as being out of the county or state on election date, being a student, or being a member of the armed forces or a spouse of a member of an armed forces.”

Scarbough said the cerk’s office has to rely mainly on the honesty and the integrity of the voters when it comes to issuing and receiving absentee ballots. While no reports of voter fraud have been made in Pike County in recent elections Scarbrough said it is something the office actively monitors.

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“There are so many people who have died and fought and done so much to have the right to vote, it’s sad that we even have to deal with voter fraud,” Scarbrough said. “It’s something no one really wants to think is going on, but statewide it’s really a problem, We just keep an eye out for fraudulent looking ballots.”

Although there isn’t much to set a fraudulent ballot apart, Scarbough said the main indicator is often the address to which ballots are sent. Other clerks have reported several indicators, as well. “It’s been different things like the same person notarizing numerous ballots or the same witnesses witnessing numerous ballots,” Scarbourgh said. “For all ballots on an absentee application, you can actually request to have the ballot sent to another address for different reasons. Another clerk had several hundred absentee ballots that had been requested to be sent to the same address, and it had been one of the candidate’s business addresses.”

Voter fraud is a Class C Felony, Scarbrough said, which can result in no less than a year or no more than 10 years in prison or monetary fines.

“If necessary we want people to use the absentee ballots, but it is a Class C felony to fraudulently take advantage of the system,” Scarbrough said.

“I think it’s all of our duty to make sure we have honest and transparent elections. If you need to report voter fraud, it’s completely confidential. I think from the numbers of the arrest from the past year from the primary election and primary run off, it’s obvious the Secretary of State is not taking this lightly. They’re not just going to let it slide.”

If you suspect someone of committing voter fraud there are several ways to confidentially report someone.

“There are five ways to report voter fraud if you know it’s going on,” Scarbrough said. “You can go online, you can send an email, you can call, you can fax it in or you can mail it in to the Secretary of State’s office. There have been several arrest made this year already in the primary election. This is something that we see every year, and legislature have taken step to prevent it, but it still happens.”