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Circuit Clerk speaks to Pike County Republican Women

Pike County Circuit Clerk Jamie Scarbrough spoke to the Pike County Republican Women about her office’s transition through the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as changes in the voting laws that were enacted in 2021 by the Alabama legislature.

Scarbrough said she had served in the circuit clerk’s office for 26 years and was currently in her second term as president of the Alabama Circuit Clerk’s Association. She said normally, that position is for only one term. But, she said the COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to the state’s court system in 2020 and the association elected her to a second term because of the large number of association projects she was overseeing that were put on hold.

Scarbrough told the Republican Women there were a lot of challenges the court system had to overcome. She said the challenges included everything from payroll and shutting down the court system to developing innovative ways to restart the court system and still adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols.

She said some of the major accomplishments during the pandemic were mobilizing court clerks by transitioning to laptops, as well as developing policies for virtual selection of jurors as well as establishing an Online Traffic Resolution system. Scarbrough said an Online Dispute Resolution system for civil disputes was being tested, but wasn’t quite ready to put into public use.

Scarbrough said the circuit clerk’s office also deals with a lot of court documentation. She said this year, the Pike County office had dealt with 76 divorce cases, 72 child support cases, 70 district court cases, 311 small claims cases, 96 civil lawsuits, 413 arrests, 480 felony arrests and 269 civil criminal cases.

She said in addition, there are also more than 600 felony criminal cases awaiting trial, including 27 murder cases in the county. She said the pandemic had placed the entire court system behind schedule.

Scarbrough said this year, the legislature enacted 166 changes in the state’s election laws, many of them aimed at reducing voter fraud. Scarbrough said in 2016 there were 89,000 absentee ballots cast and another 88,000 absentee ballots cast in 2018. But, in 2020, she said there were more than 300,000 absentee ballots cast in Alabama.