Evidently it was not enough that Republicans apparently stole the 2002 gubernatorial election in Alabama. That's the one where votes for Democratic incumbent Don Siegelman mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night in Baldwin County, giving Republican challenger Bob Riley a narrow "victory."
Evidently it's not enough that GOP plans to take over the Alabama Legislature in 2010 include prosecutions of state legislators that appear to be politically motivated. Democrat Sue Schmitz recently saw a hung jury in such a case brought by U.S. Attorney Alice Martin.
Now we learn that Governor Riley's office apparently is trying to purge rolls of likely Democratic voters.
A 2005 opinion from the Alabama attorney general named 28 felonies--which add up to about 70 crimes if each of the degrees of the offenses is counted--that have by statute or appellate decision been defined as crimes of moral turpitude, which strip someone of his voting rights.
Riley, who serves as court-appointed chief of Alabama elections, in 2007 created a list of more than 400 felonies that would lead to loss of voting rights. Riley's list includes everything from terrorism and homicide to starting a brush fire and drug possession. The governor's office gave its list to Election Systems & Software, a company hired to create a voter-registration database for the state.
Griffin Sikes Jr., legal director for the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts (AOC), said the governor had no legal authority to classify so many crimes as crimes of moral turpitude. Sikes said the governor's office had assured him for months that the shorter list was being used, but he recently discovered that was not the case.
Polls show John McCain with a wide lead over Barack Obama in Alabama, so the presidential race is not likely to be affected by the controversy. But several "down ticket" races--Congressional races and state appellate court races--could be affected.
"I think a lot of damage has been done to a lot of people," said Joe Turnham, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party. "We have less than three weeks now to find the people who have been disenfranchised and get them back on the rolls."