One sponsor of the new crossover voting law says it’s “ludicrous and laughable on its face” to prosecute crossover voters on felony charges, saying that puts crossover voting on the same level as some kinds of drug trafficking. However, other sponsors of the law supported Secretary of State John Merrill’s efforts to see through the prosecutions. The law in question prevents people from voting in one party’s primary and then crossing over to vote in another party’s primary runoff. The Alabama Legislature`s measure blocking crossover voting, passed this year, didn`t spell out particular penalties, so the Secretary of State`s office is handling potential cases as vote fraud. One of the law’s sponsors, State Senator Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), stands behind that interpretation, “I support the law that we passed; I support that there has to be a bite to the bark. If not what`s the value in passing particular legislation like this?” But not all the bill sponsors agree with enforcing it as a Class C Felony, which carries up to 10 years in prison.
Take another Republican sponsor, State Senator Cam Ward (R-Central Alabama), who says, “I look at a felon as a drug trafficker or a murderer or a rapist, not necessarily someone who may have messed up and crossover voted.”
The cases would be challenging to prosecute anyway, as voter fraud statutes in Alabama require prosecutors to show that voters acted with intent.
Defense attorneys have told us that would be incredibly difficult to prove in a crossover case without a confession.