Three Dothan, Ala. women are facing a combined 560 years in prison if they are convicted and given the maximum sentence for 56 counts of felony voter fraud.
Olivia Lee Reynolds, 65, Lesa Renee Coleman, 49, and Janice Lee Hart, 63, were arrested late last week following an investigation into irregularities in the City of Dothan elections that took place last August.
Houston Co. Sheriff Andy Hughes said his office investigated a voter fraud complaint and found that the three women had created false ballots, filled them out and cast them in an attempt to sway the elections.
It appears that their efforts may have affected the results of at least one race on the ballot.
According to WTVY, “These arrests come after the Houston County Sheriff’s Office conducted 96 interviews in the wake of the August 6th Election. The results of that election were called into question, after Amos Newsome narrowly beat Lamesa Danzey to retain his Dothan City Commission District 2 seat.”
119 of the 124 (96%) absentee ballots cast in the election were for Newsome, who edged out Danzey by a total vote count of 362 to 348 (51% – 49%).
Reyonolds faces 26 counts of felony voter fraud, Coleman faces 20 counts and Hart 10. Each count carries with it a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The charges come at a time when the State of Alabama is gearing up to implement its controversial new voter ID law.
Republicans delivered on a campaign promise in 2011 by passing a law requiring Alabama voters to show a photo ID before being allowed to vote. The law finally goes into effect for this year’s primary elections, which are set to take place June 3.
Numerous types of photo IDs can be used by voters, including an Alabama driver’s license or non-driver ID, college ID, military ID, government employee ID, federal ID or passport. However, the Alabama Secretary of State’s office said in March that they believe as many as 250,000 adults in the state do not currently have any form of photo identification.
For individuals without a photo ID, the State of Alabama is offering a free voter ID, which can be obtained at any local county board of registrars’ or Dept. of Public Safety office or at the secretary of state’s headquarters in Montgomery. Forms of non-photo ID that can be used to obtain a free photo ID include most IDs with a person’s full legal name and date of birth. Fishing and hunting licenses, social security cards, birth certificates, marriage records, military records, Medicaid and Medicare documents and school transcripts are all acceptable.
Vans from the secretary of state’s office have also been fanning out across the state to deliver IDs to individuals who cannot make it to the local offices.
But even as Alabama’s photo ID law goes into effect, the national debate surrounding voter ID rages on.
Liberals continue to say voter ID laws are an assault on the voting rights of minorities.
The United States Justice Department is currently suing North Carolina and Texas in an attempt to block their voter ID laws, arguing they discriminate against minorities.
“These guys never go away,” Vice President Joe Biden said of supporters of voter ID. “Hatred never, never goes away. The zealotry of those who wish to limit the franchise cannot be smothered by reason.”
Meanwhile, conservatives say photo voter ID is a necessary step to ensure the sanctity of elections, although it likely would not have been helpful in Dothan where individuals took advantage of the absentee ballot process.
Do you support Alabama’s new voter ID law? Let us know in the comments or by tweeting @YHPolitics.
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