Voters in Wyoming would not be able to switch their political party affiliation on primary election day under a measure passed Tuesday by the state Senate. The bill was approved on a 20-10 vote and sent to the House of Representatives, which is working on its own version of the measure. Wyoming currently allows voters to change party affiliation on primary or general election day. That has some members of the Republican Party, the dominant political party in the state, complaining that Democratic crossover voters can unfairly influence Wyoming’s GOP primaries.
The Wyoming Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Thursday morning took testimony on a bill that aims to discourage crossover voting in Wyoming primary elections, but held-over taking a vote on the proposal until Tuesday. Committee members also said they would take more testimony on the bill at that time. Senate File 32 would bar people from changing their party registration in the ten weeks leading up to the primary election. That date coincides with the first day for candidates to file to run in a Wyoming primary.
A newly elected state senator is introducing a bill to address crossover voting in Wyoming’s elections, despite a lack of appetite by the committee that sets the rules for elections across the state. Sponsored by Senator-elect Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, the bill — if enacted — would require voters looking to switch their party to fill out an application before a notary or election official, which they would then be required to file with the county clerk. Like previous versions of the bill, the legislation also sets parameters for when voters can change their party, and would prevent voters from changing their party affiliation during the roughly 10-week period between candidates officially filing for office and the primary election.
For months now we have been wondering what will happen to the 674 people identified by the Alabama Secretary of State’s office as potential crossover voters. Friday afternoon, we finally got the answer. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has confirmed that none of those voters will be prosecuted. Over 600 voters were accused of illegally attempting to vote in the Republican Senate runoff on September 26 after casting ballots in the Democratic Senate primary on August 15. “Those individuals will be investigated, indicted, and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Merrill told WHNT News 19 one day after the runoff between Luther Strange and Roy Moore.
There were 140 confirmed crossover votes in the Sept. 26 Republican runoff for the U.S. Senate, and none will be investigated further for possible prosecution, Secretary of State John Merrill announced in a press release today. Last month, Merrill’s office had compiled a preliminary list of 674 crossover votes in 41 counties and sent them to probate offices for verification. Of those, 534 turned out to be mistakes by a poll worker, another election worker or the voter, Merrill said. Merrill said he called the probate judges from the 20 counties with 140 confirmed crossover votes. “After these reviews and the conversations were completed, there were no instances in which a local Probate Judge deemed it necessary to pursue additional investigations that could potentially lead to prosecution,” Merrill said. “Without new information being introduced in this review, this matter is now considered closed.”
There were fewer illegal crossover votes in last month’s Republican Senate runoff than originally estimated, probate judges told the Alabama secretary of state. Local election officials, responding to a request from Secretary of State John Merrill to review a list of 674 possible crossover voters — who voted in the GOP runoff after voting in the Democratic primary — said many of those names were errors. Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said none of the 380 names identified in Jefferson County were crossover votes. King said the party affiliations were marked incorrectly or were incorrectly listed as voting. “We ended up having zero crossover votes,” King said. “As far as I am concerned in Jefferson County, there is no issue here anymore,” King said. Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed told the Montgomery Advertiser that at least 14 of the 34 names identified in Montgomery County were scanning errors and were not crossover votes.
Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed Thursday said just 34 of over 15,000 votes were flagged as possible crossover voters in last month’s Republican Senate runoff, and that the actual numbers might be far lower. “To say this is much ado about nothing would be a dramatic understatement,” Reed said in a phone interview. “I’m not even sure why this is being discussed. That’s not a major issue at all.” The Alabama Legislature earlier this year banned voters who cast ballots in one party’s primary from voting in another party’s runoff. The new law made such crossover voting a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $15,000 fine. The law only applies to primaries and runoffs. All registered voters can cast ballots in the Dec. 12 general election for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate seat.
Alabama: Even sponsors of the crossover voting law disagree on prosecuting cases as voter fraud | WHNT
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.
Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said there were no crossover votes cast in the county during the Sept. 26 Republican runoff in the special election for the U.S. Senate. Last week, King had said he believed most of the 380 voters on a preliminary list of crossover voters did not vote that day. In an email today to Secretary of State John Merrill and other officials, King said an investigation by Board of Registrars Chairman Barry Stephenson determined all 380 were attributed to mistakes by poll workers and others. “As (of ) 5 PM last Friday (October 27, 2017) we had every error corrected and there are no ‘cross-over’ votes in Jefferson County,” King wrote (bold in original email).
Some Democratic lawmakers want to repeal Alabama’s new crossover voting law, saying it created rather than solved a problem and its threat of felony-level penalties will discourage voter participation. “The right to vote is just so precious,” Sen. Hank Sanders of Selma said. “And we ought not to be doing things to limit it. And we certainly ought not to be doing things to end up trying to put people in jail.” The law was in force for the first time for the Sept. 26 Republican runoff between Roy Moore and Sen. Luther Strange in the special election for the U.S. Senate. The law prohibits voters who participate in one party’s primary from crossing over and voting in the other party’s runoff. So, voters in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary could not vote in the Republican runoff.
Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King said today he believes that most of the county’s 380 voters listed as illegal crossover voters in the Sept. 26 election did not actually vote that day. King said a chief inspector at one precinct misunderstood procedures and crossed off the names of those who voted in the Aug. 15 Democratic primary to ensure they could not vote again in the Republican runoff. “And so, it makes it appear, if someone is looking at our data that yes, someone on Sept. 26 came in and voted and received a Republican ballot on Sept. 26, when the reality is, no they didn’t,” King said. King said that explanation is based on his conversations with Barry Stephenson, chief of the county’s board of registrars. King said they would fully investigate the matter next week.
The ACLU of Alabama says it is “stunned” by Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s statements about crossover voters, including comments attributed to Merrill in an interview with ThinkProgress. Merrill said those who knowingly and willingly violated the law should go to prison and pay a hefty fine, according to the publication. “I want every one of them that meets that criteria to be sentenced to five years in the penitentiary and to pay a $15,000 fine for restitution,” Merrill said in the article. Merrill told AL.com it was important to stress that me meant willful violators, including those who might have broken the law to make a point.
The Alabama secretary of state’s office is not yet releasing the names of 674 voters it believes may have violated the state’s new ban on crossover voting in primary runoffs. John Bennett, communications director for Secretary of State John Merrill, said the names would be disclosed after they are verified by county election officials. Merrill asked county officials to review the list of crossover voters and report any errors by Nov. 6. After the list is confirmed, it will be turned over to prosecutors, Merrill told the Associated Press. He said it would be up to prosecutors whether to pursue charges, but said he believed it was his office’s responsibility to report the violations.
Alabama: Local District Attorneys will decide if hundreds of accused crossover voters will be prosecuted | WHNT
Nearly 700 Alabama voters could be facing up to 10 years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. Their crime? Voting in the wrong runoff election. Just seven lines of legal code adopted last year, makes all the difference. It’s the Crossover Voting Ban, that makes it illegal for someone who votes in one party’s primary to vote in the runoff of another party. The first test of the law was the recent special election primary to replace Jeff Sessions’ Senate Seat. Over the weekend, Secretary of State John Merrill released the number of violators of the law. Jefferson County leads the state with 380 people accused of crossover voting. Madison County had the second most, with 63 reports. The next highest was Montgomery County with 34. In all, 674 people are accused of breaking the law.
The names of Alabama voters who crossed party lines to vote in last month’s Republican Senate runoff will be given to prosecutors, the state’s election chief said Friday. Secretary of State John Merrill said his office has identified 674 people who voted in the Democratic primary and later voted in the GOP runoff in violation of the state’s new crossover voting ban. Merrill said he plans to send the names to the attorney general and district attorneys after local election officials check the list for errors. The move signals a hardline approach to the new state law — used for the first time in the U.S. Senate runoff — that adds fraudulent crossover voting to the list of other felony voting crimes, such as voting twice. Merrill said it was the “right thing” to report violations but noted that it is prosecutors’ decision on whether to pursue charges.
Alabama has a new law that prohibits voters from switching their political party allegiance between a primary and subsequent runoff. Alabama does not require primary voters to register with a political party. The crossover voting ban is an attempt to prevent voters of one political party from trying to meddle in another party’s runoff – although there is a dispute about how much that actually happens. “If you vote in one party’s primary, you can’t switch to the other’s runoff,” state Sen. Tom Whatley, the sponsor of the bill.