The Associated Press reported on Friday evening that Senator Melanie Sojourner is looking closely at a possible challenge of the result of the District 37 Senate race. A later report by the Clarion Ledger mentioned the filing of affidavits in Franklin County as a prime reason.
In filing the criminal charges witnesses provided sworn affidavits that poll workers at the Bude Precinct in Franklin County violated election law. The charges were brought by Carl Cupit and Anita Leonard who stated in the affidavits that they personally witnessed Ann Reed and others illegally interfere with voters during the August primary and again in the general election November 3.
Mrs. Leonard, an observer with the Franklin County GOP trained to monitor polling operations, noted nearly a hundred violations of election law throughout the day at the Bude Precinct during the general election.
According to the affidavit, Mrs. Reed disregarded rules that forbid poll workers from assisting voters behind the voting machines unless the voter has specifically asked for assistance because of disability or illiteracy. Poll workers in some cases allowed voters without ID to cast votes on voting machines, while in other cases voters without ID were turned away and not allowed to vote by affidavit as the law allows.
The violation carries the potential for both criminal and civil penalties.
It also places in question the integrity of the vote. The Bude Precinct posted an increase in voter turnout, an anomaly when compared to the low numbers in other precincts across the county and the state.
Franklin County is also one of 4 counties in Senate District 37. Depending upon the numbers at the precinct in question, the outcome of that race could hang in the balance. Current numbers indicate Democrat Bob Dearing holds a razor thin lead of 64 votes against incumbent Republican Melanie Sojourner, and the Bude Precinct is the largest Democrat leaning precinct in the county.
Senator Sojourner in a statement earlier in the week said she had been made aware that actions at some of the precincts in the district were still being looked into and that she would await the outcome of those efforts before offering any concession.
On Friday afternoon, the Sojourner Campaign sent letters of intent to inspect ballots to clerks in Franklin and Adams County, as well as to Bob Dearing.
“After receiving information that a criminal complaint had been filed in Franklin County against several election workers I felt compelled to move forward with actions to help ensure that the voters of Senate District 37 have the utmost faith in the integrity of our election,” Sojourner said.