Some 20,000 registered voters in Mobile County do not live where they signed up to vote, and Probate Judge Don Davis’ efforts to deal with that in the primary election this year has drawn complaints from critics. Davis points to three different state statutes indicating that it is illegal for voters to cast ballots in a precinct where they do not live. The Mobile County Board of Registrars, backed by an administrative rule issued by the state Secretary of State’s Office in 1994, contends that people should be allowed to vote in whichever precinct they are registered. Davis said that he is waiting for a response to a request he made in April for an attorney general’s opinion, which carries the force of law absent a court order. He said he wants to make sure to get it right. “We pride ourselves on having proper, correct elections in Mobile County,” he said.
A pair of former political candidates, however, questioned whether the probate judge’s interpretation of the law runs counter to the federal Voting Rights Act. “The attorney general question should be referred to the voting rights section (of the U.S. Justice Department) to get it cleared,” said Milton Morrow, who serves on the Mobile County Democratic Party Executive Committee and who has run for a variety of political positions. “It sounds fishy to me. … This is going to cause nothing but voter intimidation and harassment.” Davis said his staff did not turn away a single voter during the primary election. Voters with faulty address were able to cast “provisional ballots,” which count in the final vote total as long as the Board of Registrars verifies the addresses.