King sets up fraud hotline

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 21, 2005

With Friday afternoon’s deadline for House District 72 candidate qualification past, attention will now turn to the campaign and the election. One person who says he will definitely be paying attention is Alabama Attorney General Troy King.

“We’ll be doing the same thing we do every time, and that means doing everything in our power to ensure fair and honest elections,” King said in an interview Friday afternoon.

King’s attention would be welcome news to the many residents in Hale and Perry counties who believe that voter fraud has been rampant in recent elections and could be an issue again. What might not be such welcome news is that King has no plans to send officials from his office to personally monitor the polls on Election Day.

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“If we begin sending people into the field, we have to be careful,” he said, citing the Voting Rights Act and regulations that protect voters from any interference at the polls.

In fact, King said, his authority does not even extend to establishing surveillance during the election.

“To have investigators at polling places,” he said, “we have to have approval from the Justice Department.”

In lieu of a physical presence, King is establishing a hotline for residents who believe they have information about illegal activity.

“We have a voter line, manned by an attorneys” King said, “so people can call and talk to them, and investigators in my office can respond…that’s all we can do.”

The hotline number is 1-800-831-8814, and King encouraged anyone with complaints of unfairness regarding the District 72 election to call.

“Anybody in West Alabama who believes there have been irregularities about voting should call,” he said. “They will talk to an attorney on my staff and their complaint will be recorded.”

Whether a hotline will be enough to satisfy concerned residents of District 72 remains to be seen, but King says if there was anything else he could reasonably do, it would be done.

“We want to make sure,” he added, “that we are doing everything we can to make sure the elections are clean and free.”