Scarbrough tells Exchange Club about Pike County voter fraud

Published 9:11 pm Thursday, November 14, 2019

Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough spoke to the Exchange Club Thursday about changes to absentee voting for the upcoming election and about voter fraud.

Scarbrough said “easily 25 percent” of absentee ballots are fraudulent.

“It happens all the time,” Scarbrough said. “It’s important to have an absentee election manager that really cares. If you try to forge a ballot, I can’t  stop that ballot, but I can turn you over to the district attorney and the attorney general. Just about every election I turn in a stack of ballots to the DA and attorney general.”

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Scarbrough said the problem of absentee voter fraud is even worse in other areas of Alabama, especially in areas where the absentee election managers re less attentive to signs of fraud.

“We’ll get a stack of ballots and the signature is the same on each one, the writing is the same,” Scarbrough said. “Legally, I can’t stop them from voting; I have to process their ballots. Sometimes the ballot comes back obviously forged.”

One way that Scarbrough said can identify voter fraud is comparing the signature on the voter ID to the signature on the ballot.

“That’s the only thing you have to compare it to sometimes,” Scarbrough said. “If on this license the person can barely write their name and then on the ballot you have a fancy signature in cursive, it’s not the same person.”

The fraud is often committed by groups that go around trying to collect absentee votes from people, Scarbrough said, including “taking advantage of the elderly” at nursing homes or retirement homes.

“I have gotten numerous calls before from people who I have sent ballots asking me why I had sent them a ballot and that they had not applied for one,” Scarbrough said. “It’s taking advantage of the elderly and it makes me mad.”

Although ballots are not yet available, there are some changes to absentee voting in the upcoming general election that voters need to know about.

“In the past, the photo ID only had to be included with the absentee ballot itself,” Scarbrough said. “This year, it will have to be sent in with the application as well. Voters need to know that because if they send in an application without a photo ID like before, I won’t be able to send them a ballot.”

There have been other absentee voting changes that Scarbrough said have been good to clarify procedures and protect voters.

There have also been updates to what qualifies as an emergency reason for voting absentee less than five days before the election. Previously, this section limited emergencies to business and medical reasons.

“That didn’t allow for if a family member died in that time,” Scarbrough said.

The application now allows people to vote emergency absentee if a family member of the second degree of kinship passes away within five days before an election.

The three acceptable reasons to request an emergency absentee ballot are:

• The elector is required by his or her employer under unforeseen circumstances within five days before an election to be unavailable at the polls on election day.

• The elector is a caregiver of a person who requires emergency treatment by a licensed physician within five days before an election.

• A family member to the second degree (parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, or sibling) of kinship by affinity (marriage) or consanguinity (blood relation) of an elector dies within five days before an election.

The elector must return his or her application either through the mail or in person. Scarbrough said she cannot take a completed application from anyone else, even the voter’s spouse.

The ballot will then be sent by mail and electors should follow the instructions provided with the ballot to mail it back.

In order to vote absentee, a qualified voter must:

• expect to be out of the county or state on Election Day,

• have a physical illness or infirmity which is expected to prevent his or her attendance at the polls, whether he or she is within or outside the county on the day of election,

• expects to work a shift which has at least 10 hours which coincide with the hours the polls are open at his or her regular polling place,

• be enrolled as a student at an educational institution located outside the county of his or her personal residence which prevents his or her attendance at the polls,

• be a member of, or spouse or dependent of a member of, the armed forces of the United States or be similarly qualified to vote absentee pursuant to the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff, or

• have been appointed as an election officer or named as a poll watcher at a polling place other than his or her regular polling place.

Separate applications for absentee ballots are required for elections which are more than 42 days apart, except as to individuals voting pursuant to the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Absentee Voting Act, 42 U.S.C. 1973ff.

Completed absentee applications must include the Alabama residence where the voter is registered to vote, even if the ballot is to be mailed to another address where the applicant/voter regularly receives mail. If you have moved and have not updated your voter registration, you should contact the Pike County Board of Registrars at 120 W. Church St. Troy, AL  36081 and update your address prior to applying for an absentee ballot.  You may contact the registrar’s office at 334-566-1757.

The absentee election manager is required to post each day a list of absentee voters to include names, addresses and voting places of each applicant. This list will be posted on the public bulletin board on the first floor of the courthouse.