The Alabama Republican Party will hear from a Dadeville resident who said her vote did not count in the May 24 primary election between Jay Hovey and incumbent Tom Whatley for state senate district 27.
The Whatley campaign issued a release Friday stating the vote of Patsy Kenney for Whatley did not count while the vote of her husband did.
The couple moved back to Alabama to be closer to her son and family. According to the release the couple soon after went to change over driver’s licenses and register to vote at the same time
“Voting has always been important to me,” Kenney said “I think I have missed voting in maybe one election in the past 20 years.”
If the party accepts the vote it would tie the race. Alabama law provides in the event of a tie in a primary vote the state party chair decides the winner. Birmingham attorney Joel Blankenship spoke of the matter Friday on Rightside Radio hosted by Phil Williams.
“We feel confident in the event of a tie of Republicans selecting Republicans,” Blankenship said.
The Whatley campaign contends life-long Republican voter Mrs. Kenney’s vote should count. The campaign said Mrs. Kenney and her husband went to Opelika on April 28 to obtain new driver licenses.
“An ALEA officer, acting as a desk clerk, helped them,” the release states. “The officer asked if they both wanted to register to vote through Motor Voter, they both replied yes, and the officer entered all their relevant information straight into her computer. Both of the Kenneys left ALEA thinking that they were both registered to vote.”
When the Kenneys went to vote on May 24, Mrs. Kenney was told her name was not on the voter roll but her husband’s name was.
Alabama Code 17-4-1 states a voter list is to be published prior to the election and provides a way to add a name if it has been left off.
“...any elector whose name was inadvertently omitted from the list shall have 10 days in which to have his or her name entered upon the list of qualified voters,” law states. “If within 10 days any voter shall reasonably satisfy the board of registrars by proper proof that any name should be added to the list, the board shall add such name to the list.”
Mrs. Kenney cast a provisional ballot which was not allowed to be counted by the Tallapoosa County Board of Registrars on May 31 because her name was not on the voters list.
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“I was extremely upset, from a young age I was always taught that voting is not only a right and privilege, but a responsibility. More importantly, when I found out there was a one vote difference in the Senate race, I had to reach out to someone, because I just knew that my vote should have counted.”
Attorney Bryan Taylor spoke with Phil Williams and said he represented Mrs. Kenney. Taylor said Mrs. Kenney did not complete the process to get her driver’s license because of a vision issue. Mrs. Kenney’s husband was able to complete the process.
According to Whatley’s campaign, Mrs. Kenney’s voter registration card was put in the mail to her on June 3.
“As far as anyone can tell, Mrs. Kenney’s voter registration application was completed and submitted on April 28," the release stated. “By law ALEA has 10 days to forward voter registration information to the county registrar.”
ALEA’s process with driver’s license does not forward information to Montgomery if the application process is not complete. In this case Mrs. Kenney’s driver’s license was delayed. It is not known by The Outlook if the Motor Voter application to register to vote would be submitted if the driver’s license application was paused.
In Lee County Blankenship told Williams there was strong evidence of Democrats voting in the race. Williams 681 people who had previously voted Democrat cast ballots as Republicans in the Senate district. He said 422 of those had voted in multiple Democrat primaries and that 398 of those were in Lee County.
As part of the election contest in Senate District 27, Patsy Kenney has asked that her sealed, uncounted provisional ballot be sent to the committee that is hearing the challenge. Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett has been subpoenaed by the party to deliver Kenney’s provisional ballot.
“The ballot is Mrs. Kenney’s, not Sen. Whatley’s and not Mr. Hovey’s,” the campaign said. “Attorneys for the contestants and Sen. Whatley will be arguing that Patsy Kenney was lawfully registered to vote and that her ballot should be counted. It is expected that Kenney’s ballot would represent the tying vote in the contest.”
Kenney said she always knew voting was important.
“I have always heard of the power of one vote,” Kenney said. “I just never thought it would be my own. I was proud to vote for Sen. Whatley and I will always tell the story about how my one vote could make the actual difference in who my state senator is.”