On September 8, 2020 a complaint was filed with the Jackson County Circuit Clerk’s office by Stevenson mayoral candidate, Mike Cloud, alleging the wrongful obtainment and validation of invalid ballots in the recent municipal election that was held on August 25, 2020. Cloud was running against incumbent, Rickey Steele, who was declared the winner of the election and re-elected as mayor.
The verified complaints state, “The Plaintiff received 246 votes, and the Defendant [Steele] received 147 votes cast at the in-person polls; the Plaintiff received 55 absentee votes cast, and the Defendant received 277 absentee votes.”
Upon examination of the absentee voter list, Cloud alleges there were unqualified and ineligible voters, and the persons disqualified to vote were, “persons not registered to vote; persons convicted of felonies and crimes of moral turpitude; persons not residents of the city; persons whose ballots were illegal because of insufficient witnesses.”
Cloud alleges that Steele, or his agents, also fraudulently induced persons to vote for Steele and says that absentee ballots were also illegally obtained, harvested and counted.
“But for the illegal votes cast, the Plaintiff [Cloud] would have won the election for mayor and would have been declared elected.”
Cloud has petitioned the court to declare him the rightfully elected person who is entitled to hold the office of Stevenson City Mayor and to award just and general relief to which Cloud may be entitled.
In-person ballots are counted by poll workers. In the instance of absentee ballots, the ballot must go into a special envelope. The envelope must be either notarized or signed by two witnesses. These ballots are then verified by officials who determine whether or not the vote is valid. In the instance of provisional ballots, the Board of Registrars will verify the validity of the vote and determine if the ballot may or may not be counted.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Jenifer C. Holt recused herself from the case and requested an out-of-circuit judge be assigned to the case. Jackson County Circuit Judge John H. Graham also recused himself, stating he was an elector in the city of Stevenson and was solicited by both parties for his vote.
Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker will now have to appoint another circuit judge from another Alabama county to try the case.
The Clarion reached out to pertinent parties, and as of the time of this publication, has not received a comment.