This story was written by Austin Nelson, The Auburn Plainsman
Six Alabama counties are under investigation for possible voter fraud.
The Birmingham News reported the counties of Conecuh, Greene, Lowndes, Perry, Washington and Wilcox all had more voters registered than were eligible to vote.
The analysis compared current voter rolls for the counties to the 2007 Census population projections.
The office of Alabama Secretary of State is responsible for coordinating state-wide elections, as well as hearing voter complaints.
Emily Thompson, chief of staff for Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman, said the numbers were hard to believe.
It is not impossible, but Chapman said it was improbable to have 110 percent of your eligible voters registered to vote, Thompson said.
Although it oversees elections in the state, the Office of Secretary of State does not have the authority to investigate.
We have to work closely with the Attorney General Office and the Department of Justice, informing them of the information we receive, Thompson said.
Representatives for the Alabama Attorney General and U.S. Department of Justice both refused to comment, stating it was their policy not to confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation.
Perry and Lowndes counties made the news earlier this year for another possible instance of voter fraud.
We had a significant amount of absentee ballots for the June 3rd primary, Thompson said.
According to a June 25 article from The Birmingham News, Perry County, with a population of 10,602, had 1,114 absentee ballots. Nearby Jefferson County, a city of more than 600,000 people, had only 365.
Thompson said voter fraud might not be the cause of the recent problem. Other factors could have contributed to the discrepancy between registered and eligible voters.
There have been an increased number of factories and industries that might have increased the population and then voter registration, Thompson said.
Jim Spearman, executive director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said aside from any recent population changes, the Census figures could be off because of the challenge of obtaining an initial accurate count.
There is a historic problem with undercounting in rural counties, Spearman said. There are lots of variables in there, so it is very possible the numbers are flawed.
Phillip Bryan, communications director for the Alabama Republican Party, said the problem should not be dismissed so quickly.
I think we have to get to the bottom of it and find out what the source is, Bryan said. Just assuming it is a Census problem is foolish and nave.
Bryan said the response from state Democrats was typical.
The Democrats have a history of this behavior within the elections, Bryan said. Again, they are trying to explain it away as being a documentation problem.
Thompson would not say whether the problem was a result of partisan politics.
Most of the counties under investigation, however, primarily vote Democrat, Thompson said.
Party leaders, however, implicated partisan politics less discretely.
Democrats are in desperation mode in Alabama because they realize they arent going to win, Bryan said.
Spearman pointed the finger right back at the Republicans.
Republicans are looking for something to justify what may be a coming loss, Spearman said. It is just another thing to take your mind off the economy.
Thompson said all citizens, regardless of party affiliation, should work to protect the integrity f the process.
Voter fraud is not a political issue, Thompson said. It is an American issue, and we as Americans work to make sure voter fraud doesnt happen with any party.