Not able to run? Candidate not on voter registry

Published 5:19 am Monday, August 25, 2008

By By Kerry Bean – publisher
Al Wood has lost at least one vote in Tuesday's East Brewton mayoral election.
The candidate is not on the list of registered voters in Escambia County, so he won't be able to vote Tuesday. And that glitch could put his hopes of sitting in the mayor's chair in jeopardy.
State law requires that candidates who qualify to run for municipal office be residents of their city or district, and that they be “qualified electors” - registered voters - in their county.
Wood said Friday that he tried to register to vote but was a day late. Wood said he thought he was registered but his wife was not registered to vote.
Wood will still appear on the ballot Tuesday, but whether he could take office if elected remains in doubt.
State law allows election contests within five days after voting results are certified, said Rob Johnston of the Alabama Secretary of State's office. Johnston also confirmed that candidates for municipal office must be registered voters.
Election contests would have to be filed in Circuit Court, Johnston said.
Wood said he was not told when he qualified that he would need to make sure he was a registered voter.
Ken Smith, an attorney for the Alabama League of Municipalities, said it is a candidate's responsibility to make sure he or she is qualified to run.
When filling out qualifying paperwork, “they are swearing that they will be (a registered voter),” he said.
Smith said he had not seen a case in which a candidate won an election but was not a registered voter.
The League of Municipalities handbook on elections states that the clerk and mayor “have no authority to judge the qualifications of a candidate. Their only job is to receive the statements which are properly filled out and see to it that the names of the candidates are properly placed on the ballot.”
Wood said he would continue to campaign for mayor.
Earlier this month, Wood was indicted on charges of impersonating a police officer and receiving stolen property. He said the charges were politically motivated. Prosecutors denied that.
A review of voter lists showed all other Brewton and East Brewton candidates were registered to vote.

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