JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. – It’s been one week since a Stevenson mayoral candidate filed a contest over the August municipal election results.
Now that both area circuit judges have recused themselves, they are in limbo.
Current city councilman Mike Cloud is blaming unqualified absentee votes for his mayoral race loss to incumbent mayor Rickey Steele, and he is hoping to get the outcome overturned.
Cloud received the most in-person votes but lost by more than 200 absentee votes.
Court documents show Cloud said he checked the absentee voter list and found some ballots were cast by:
- People who were not qualified to vote
- People who were not registered to vote
- Some who had been convicted of felonies
- Some that did not live in the City of Stevenson
- Voters with insufficient witnesses.
And getting something done about it is a top priority.
“When a contest of an election is filed, when it is on the docket, it takes precedence over any other criminal case or civil case on the docket,” explained 38th Judicial Circuit Clerk Bart Buchanan.
Buchanan told News 19 clerks inspect absentee voter information to make sure it meets certain criteria. If it doesn’t, the voters must fix it or vote provisionally, or the votes are not counted.
“The absentee ballot process in Alabama is a good model to go by, one of the better models in the nation. Unless you’re just a crooked circuit clerk or AEM or something like that, it’s pretty foolproof, in my opinion,” said Buchanan.
But he said there is always the chance of mistakes or wrongdoing.
“It’s something the courts are going to have to look at and Mr. Cloud is going to have to prove his allegations,” added Buchanan.
Buchanan expects the Alabama Supreme Court chief justice to appoint another circuit judge to hear the case any day now.