Alabama A&M students claim voting rights were violated, file federal lawsuit

NORMAL, Ala. - Four Alabama A&M University students are suing state and local election officials, claiming they were denied the right to vote in the Nov. 6 general election.

Jordon Jackson, Kendra Jones, Terry Matthews III and Simeon Sykes filed the federal lawsuit Friday morning in U.S. District Court against the Madison County Board of Registrars, Board of Registrars Chair Lynda Hairston, and Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill.

According to the lawsuits, the four students registered to vote in mid-October, before the Oct. 22 deadline. Jones registered online; the other three filled out voter registration forms as part of on-campus voter registration drives.

On election day, the students were told their registrations were not in the system, the lawsuit claims, and they were told they had to cast provisional ballots.

[Were you asked to cast a provisional ballot in Madison County on Election Day 2018? Do you know if it was accepted or rejected? Let us know if your vote was counted by contacting us at news.department@whnt.com.]

The next day, when the students checked their registration statuses on the Alabama Secretary of State's website, they were shown to be active voters who were assigned to vote at Alabama A&M. The lawsuit claims their provisional ballots were listed as rejected. Jackson and Matthews had rejected ballots because they were purportedly not registered at the time of the election. Jones and Sykes had ballots rejected because they were purportedly not registered in Madison County.

Under Alabama law certified provisional ballots are counted beginning at noon, the week after election day. So, in this case, the count will begin Nov. 13.

The lawsuit claims the students were denied their rights under the 14th, 15th and 26th Amendments. It also claims elections officials violated the National Voter Registration Act and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The lawsuit asks for the plaintiffs' provisional ballots to be counted and for a judge to order development of procedures to ensure voter registration applications are processed in a timely fashion.

Those named in the lawsuit are scheduled to attend a hearing on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at the Hugo L Black US Courthouse in Birmingham. WHNT News 19 will update you on the outcome of the hearing.

The suit is not the first allegation of voter suppression from students at the historically black college. Last week, students from Alabama A&M and Oakwood universities held a news conference with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference where they claimed many students had not received their confirmation of address cards in the mail and were then listed as inactive voters as a result.