By Chip Brownlee
Alabama Political Reporter
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill’s office said Friday that no crossover voters will be prosecuted and the instances of crossover voting were far fewer than initially believed.
Initial numbers indicated in a formal election report in August showed more than 674 individuals had voted in the Democratic primary and then went on to vote in the Republican run-off — a violation of an Alabama law passed during the 2017 Legislative Session
But after a more thorough investigation, new numbers compiled in a report from the Secretary of State’s office showed that there were only 140 confirmed cases of crossover voting — 0.03 percent of the total votes cast in the Republican runoff.
“We were very excited to see that our efforts to educate and inform voters, in conjunction and cooperation with local election officials, were successful and that the Probate Judges have determined these findings do not warrant prosecution,” Merrill said.
The report was compiled with the help of probate judges whose counties reported crossover voters. Merrill then spoke individually with 20 probate judges, who are the chief election officials at the local level, seeking their recommendation for how to move forward.
Merrill said the probate judges found no instances where they deemed it necessary to pursue additional investigations or prosecution. The cases are now closed, Merrill’s office said.
The other 534 initial instances of crossover votes were listed in error by poll workers, election officials or the voters themselves, according to the Secretary of State’s investigation. Most were attributed to scanning errors.
The names of the 140 confirmed crossover voters will be recorded and documented for future use, Merrill said, which was a recommendation of the probate judges. Merrill also said he will encourage probate judges to modernize their election check processes through the use of electronic poll books. Those electronic poll books are more secure and speed up the process.
“We recognize and deeply appreciate the time, energy, resources, and commitment made by our elections teams in each county and each county’s dedication to safe, secure, credible and fair elections in their communities. The recommendations made by our Probate Judges are enthusiastically received and it should be noted that the Office of the Secretary of State will not forward the names of the crossover voters for prosecution by the local District Attorney or the Attorney General,” Merrill said.
More than 480,000 people particiated in the run-off election on Sept. 26 and 99.97 percent of ballots cast were error-free without any concern of improprierty, Merrill said.