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Houston County voters warned about scammers

Individuals in Houston County are going door to door, creating suspicious activity regarding absentee ballots.
Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 6:09 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - The 2020 general election will be happening amid a pandemic. For that reason, it is predicted to be monumental for absentee voting. Voters are warned of suspicious activity regarding absentee ballots.

Individuals in Houston County are going door to door with blank applications for absentee ballots, pressing voters to sign and getting a copy of their drivers licenses. This is not the protocol. Circuit clerk Carla Woodall shares their concern.

“As the absentee election manager, I encourage voters to be aware of their right to vote, make their own decisions, and protect their information. no voter should be coerced to absentee vote against their will," Woodall said.

By law, submitted applications are confidential. If not protected could lead to issues related to identity theft. Woodall said this has possibly occurred in this situation.

“The Absentee Election Manager’s Office does not go door to door soliciting absentee voters or distributing applications,” Woodall said. “Only under extenuating circumstances would an official perform duties outside of the office.”

Some of these individuals are posing as election officials and communicating to the voter that they will return to their home to assist with voting, notarizing the ballot, and can then take the ballot and mail it for them.

“Just like at the polls where you cannot vote for someone else, the same is true for absentee voting,” Woodall said. “You cannot submit an application for someone else or deliver someone else’s ballot. Voted ballots submitted by mail may be tracked utilizing the Secretary of State’s website.”

The issue was brought to their attention last week and has since then been on the rise. Woodall said they are almost up to the dozens in complaints.

“The Absentee Election Managers Office has received multiple complaints from voters expressing concern for their vote, unwanted pressure, uneasiness, being scared, and regretting signing applications and turning over identifying information,” Woodall said.

All complaints are being turned over to the Houston County Sheriff’s Department and are being investigated. Woodall said depending on conviction, this could be a misdemeanor or possibly a felony. Anyone concerned they are a victim of fraudulent voting activity should contact the Houston County Sheriff’s Department.

“Voters are cautioned to protect their right, protect their identity, and protect their vote,” Woodall said. “Do not fall prey to scams or illegal activity, as always Sheriff Donald Valenza, Probate Judge Patrick Davenport, and myself are working to protect the integrity of this election and would ask that all voters do the same by protecting your information and your vote.”

Voters can go to room 105 of the Houston County Courthouse to complete the application, receive their ballot and vote in person. Voters can also obtain an application online by going to www.alabamavotes.gov or calling 671-8700 where an application will be mailed.

The last day to submit an application is Thursday, October 29. The last day to submit a voted ballot in person is Monday, November 2. The last day to submit a voted ballot by mail is Tuesday, November 3 at 12:00 p.m. These deadlines are not postmarked dates, but actual dates

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