The Perry County Sheriff's Office arrested Perry County Commission chairman Albert Turner, Jr. on Thursday for one count of felony absentee voter fraud and one count of misdemeanor voter fraud.
According to court records, Turner was released on a bond of $1,500. Turner's arraignment is scheduled for 9 a.m. February 23rd at the Perry County Courthouse.
Turner called the indictment "bogus" last month after the charges were announced in a press release by former Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Alabama's former Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Michael Jackson on January 11th in their final days in office.
According to Merrill's and Jackson's press release, Turner was indicted for allegedly voting multiple times and inserting multiple completed ballots into the tabulator at a polling location in Perry County in the May primary. Turner was also indicted for allegedly ballot harvesting during the November general election. The indictment alleges that Turner presented multiple completed absentee ballots for mailing from the U.S. Post Office.
In a statement on social media after the indictment was announced, Turner said he was not concerned about "Jackson and his bogus charge of ballot stuffing and mailing too many absentee ballots."
Robert Turner, Jr. defeated Jackson with 54% of the vote in the May primary. According to the Selma Times-Journal, Turner had 9,178 votes compared to 7,770 for Jackson. Jackson had served as Alabama's Fourth Judicial Circuit District Attorney since 2004, according to the outlet. Robert Turner, Jr. is a cousin of Albert Turner, Jr.
"If I am guilty of anything, it was making sure Robert Jr. beat the hell out of Jackson, and he did that," Albert Turner, Jr. said last month.
Jackson stated at a press conference announcing the indictment that he had "heard the cry from the citizens and the people running for office to clean up the elections in the Black Belt."
Some Republicans are also asking if the alleged voter fraud affected the result of a state house race.
Incumbent State Rep. Thomas Jackson (D-Thomasville) won a general election challenge by 550 votes over Fred Kelley, a Republican challenger for the House District 68 seat, according to Alabama Daily News.
"It's important for the Republican Party to ensure votes were counted properly in Perry County, especially in this one precinct that could have swung the outcome of a state house election," ALGOP chairman John Wahl told Alabama Daily News. "We are waiting to see if the alleged ballot stuffing could have affected this precinct."
Thomas Jackson told Alabama Daily News that his performance in Perry County was because he campaigned hard in the area new to the district.
Kelley told Alabama Daily News that "I do not believe it is fair of the people of Monroe County, my home county, the only county entirely in this district, to overwhelming vote for me and have their votes nulled by alleged voted fraud."
When asked if the alleged voter fraud could affect the outcome of any of the elections held in May or in the general election last year, Merrill said in a press conference last month that "it is not appropriate at this time to comment because a lot of variables that factor into that decision and these matters are currently under investigation."
According to Perry County's website, Turner was first appointed to serve in 2000 as a commissioner to serve the remainder of his father's fourth term of office after the death of Albert Turner, Sr. The elder Turner was a civil rights activist and advisor to Martin Luther King, Jr. According to a New York Times article after Albert Turner, Sr.'s death, Turner, Sr. and his wife, Evelyn, were prosecuted unsuccessfully for "altering absentee ballots collected from rural blacks" in the 1980s.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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