On the Road: Oneonta & Cullman

Tuesday, after I left Pell city, my travels took me to both Oneonta and Cullman, where I visited with friends and supporters of my campaign for Secretary of State.

I especially enjoyed visiting with county election officials with whom I worked during my 24+ years in the Secretary of State’s office. It was great to reminisce with them about the various elections and election issues that we worked on in the past.

While in Oneonta, I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Nathan Kirk, owner of Blount County Tactical. Mr. Kirk is not only a enthusiastic supporter of the Second Amendment, but he’s also a vigorous supporter of the First Amendment – as am I (on both counts).

On the Road: Ashville – St. Clair County Voting Machine Testing

I attended the public testing of voting machines in St. Clair County this morning in Ashville. Ashley Hilburn – a St. Clair County poll worker- and I selected two machines for review and observed the successful testing. It was great seeing St. Clair County’s new probate judge Andrew Weathington and recently-retired probate judge Mike Bowling.

On the Road: Fort Payne

Since my mom’s side of the family is in DeKalb County (and Jackson County next door), I always enjoy visiting there. Last night was no exception, as I met with the Republican Women of DeKalb County in Fort Payne at DeSoto Golf Course. I enjoyed talking with the members and then visiting at the end of the meeting. I met a few people who know my family in Ider, Henagar, and Flat Rock. I especially appreciated one gentleman’s memories of my aunt. [Edited 3/30/2022 to reflect that this gentleman actually remembered one of my aunts rather than my mom.]

With Cindy Holcomb, Chair of the Republican Women of DeKalb County, and Her Mother
With DeKalb County Probate Judge Ronnie Osbourn
With Alabama Supreme Court Candidate Debra Jones

On the Road: Fort Payne

I enjoyed starting Saturday in Fort Payne, the county seat of DeKalb County. Ever since I was a youngster spending time at my grandfather’s house on Sand Mountain, I liked mornings up that way.

DeKalb County Republicans

I spent time with – and had the opportunity to speak to – DeKalb County Republicans at Cattle Stampede Steakhouse. Time was limited, so I wasn’t able to entertain questions. I will be back there though on April 9th, and we should have time for that then.

Cattle Stampede Steakhouse

I saw a few DeKalb County election officials that I know: Probate Judge Ronnie Osbourn and Donna Pate of the Board of Registrars.

With Probate Judge Ronnie Osbourn
With Donna Pate of the Board of Registrars

The remainder of the morning and the afternoon was spent distributing campaign materials in Ider – atop Sand Mountain and where my mom grew up – and various counties: Cherokee, Clay, Coosa, Elmore.

Ider High School
Cherokee County Courthouse
Clay County Courthouse

It’s always good to see patriotism around and about.

On the Road: Pell City

Yesterday, supporters in St. Clair County held a “meet & greet” for me in Pell City. It was well-attended, so I had a wonderful opportunity to meet some great people and share with them who I am and why I’m running to be your next Secretary of State.

With St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling
With Judith Wofford (St. Clair County Board of Registrars), Deborah Howard (St. Clair County Election Coordinator), and Annette Manning (retired St. Clair County Circuit Clerk)
With St. Clair County Circuit Clerks: Annette Manning (retired) and Kathy Burke (current)
With Chairman Paul Manning of the St. Clair County Commission & Marie Manning
With Ashley Hilburn
With Cathy Fine
With Sarah Howard and Deborah Howard
With Ren Wheeler (St. Clair County Board of Registrars)
With Judith Wofford, , Lynn Foshee, and Ren Wheeler (Members of the St. Clair County Board of Registrars)
With St. Clair County Sheriff Billy J. Murray
With Probate Court Assistant Clerk Mary Walker
With Charity Mitchum and Deborah Howardx
With St. Clair County Poll Worker Barbara Fincher
St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling, Ashley Hilburn, and retired St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Annette Manning
With St . Clair County Poll Worker Alfred Guido
With Annette Manning and St. Clair County Poll Workers Mr. & Mrs. Chaney
St. Clair County Officials: Judith Wofford (Board of Registrars), Tracy Wolfe (Revenue Commission and Absentee Voting), and Donna Lee (Revenue Commission)
With St. Clair County Poll Worker Sonia Dale
With Mandy Bowling Camp
(Complete Catering Company)

Election Integrity

I was asked in a round about way my position on how we Alabamians can ensure our elections have integrity.

My recommendation for ensuring election integrity is that the Legislature should mandate post-election procedural audits so that the public knows that election administrators have conducted their election according to state and federal laws and regulations.

I have long said during my near-25-year career in the Secretary of State’s office that our elections can have integrity only if the election administrators faithfully comply with the laws and regulations that govern our elections.

If members of the public believe that election officials themselves are doing the wrong thing, even if unintentionally, those people will lose faith in elections.

In calling for these procedural audits, I’m in no way alleging that Alabama’s election administrators have performed in any way other than professionally and honorably. My experience over many years with probate judges, absentee election managers (who are predominantly circuit clerks), sheriffs, members of the boards of registrars, and city and town clerks, is that they perform their duties with integrity and are committed to serving their voters well.

However, it is not necessarily enough to speak of professionalism, honor, integrity, and commitment. Some Alabamians seem to have a kinship with Missourians, who, a long time ago, adopted as their state motto “Show Me”!

From what I have seen, the election administrators I have worked with for over 24 years have always stood ready to show their constituents what they do. They take their responsibilities as election officials seriously and perform their duties with pride.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Alabama is one of six states that do not require any kind of post-election audit. Our legislature should remedy that situation.

In 2021, to its credit, the Alabama Legislature did pass legislation to require a pilot program for a post-election audit in the 2022 general election. That pilot will involve three counties. We, including members of the Legislature, can and should learn from this pilot program.

Election administrators are not the only people, though, that can help us have faith and confidence in our elections. All of us, as voters in our Great State of Alabama, have a role in ensuring election integrity.

While we may not all be official poll watchers representing a candidate or a political party, we all see what happens at our polling place. If you see something that raises your eyebrow (especially if it raises both eyebrows!), never hesitate to talk to your probate judge (in county-run elections), your city or town clerk (in municipal elections), or the Secretary of State or Attorney General about it.

Whoever you contact can assess whether what you saw was consistent with election laws and regulations. If what you saw is consistent with election laws and regulations, perhaps they can set your mind at ease. But, if what you saw is not consistent with election laws and regulations, they can advise you of what additional steps, if any, are needed to begin an investigation.

As law enforcement often advises the public, if you see something, say something. And do so promptly, especially on Election Day, so that the situation can be addressed as quickly as possible.