Norman: Voters will not be turned away

Published 1:34 pm Thursday, March 29, 2012

Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman has said that any registered voter in District 4 will be allowed to cast a ballot in April 24th Democratic primary runoff for Butler County Commission, despite a rule by the Alabama Democratic Party that prohibits crossover voting.

Crossover voting is simply when a voter takes part in one political party’s primary election and then votes in a primary runoff for the other party.

On paper, the state Democratic Party’s rule prohibits voters who took part in the Republican primary from crossing over and voting in the runoff between Robert Blankenship and Allin Whittle for the District 4 seat on the county commission. That will not be the case in Butler County, however.

“No one will be prevented from voting,” Norman said. “We’re not going to turn anyone way.”

Norman said that while the state’s Democratic Party does have a rule against crossover voting, there is no law prohibiting voters from doing so.

“A rule is a rule, but it’s not a law,” he said.

With no authority on the local level to enforce the state rule, Norman said there is virtually no way county poll workers can police crossover voting.

Bradley Davidson, Executive Director of the Alabama Democratic Party, said the party and the state lack any way of enforcing the rule.

“It is impossible to know who voted in the Republican primary,” he said. “The parties don’t even get a list from the Secretary of State that says ‘these people took one of your ballots.’”

The state Republican Party does not have a crossover voting rule. It is OK for voters who participated in the Democratic primary to vote in the Republican runoff between Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh and Chip Brown for president of the Public Service Commission.

Norman said that there is no penalty under the law for crossover voting, but that it can serve as a reason to contest an election if a candidate believes that crossover voting influenced the outcome. He cited the 1986 runoff for governor.

In that race Charles Graddick defeated then Lt. Gov. Bill Baxley for the Democratic nomination in a runoff election. Baxley appealed the results on the basis of crossover voting, according to Norman.

The Alabama Supreme Court then ruled Graddick had violated primary regulations by encouraging Republicans to crossover and vote as Democrats in the runoff. State Democratic Party leaders enforced the party’s participation rule and selected Baxley as the nominee although the court had given the party the option of holding another election.

Baxley went on to lose to Republican Guy Hunt in the general election.