HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Tuesday, a motion was filed to request the Madison County Board of Registrars and the Secretary of State’s office to count denied provisional ballots of four Alabama A&M students. The group filed a federal lawsuit on November 9, claiming their voter rights were violated. It was against Lynda Hairston with the Madison County Board of Registrars and Secretary of State John Merrill.
In an evidentiary hearing Tuesday, Judge Madeline Hughes Haikala sided with the defense that there was not enough evidence to prove the Board of Registrars office acted with negligence or that the registration forms ever made it to their office.
Several claims were presented supporting the efforts made by the students to get registered before the October 22 deadline (explained in the affidavit remarks below).
In the lawsuit, the students say the day after the election the Secretary of State’s website listed them as active voters, with the campus as their polling location. This despite the fact they were told on election day that they weren’t in the system as registered at the same location.
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill explained to WAFF 48 News that the website listed them as active because they filled out registrations forms when they completed provisional ballots. This showed them as registering after the state deadline, so their ballots were thrown out.
Tuesday, the legal counsel representing Jordon Jackson, Kendra Jones, Terry Matthews III, and Simeon Sykes filed a motion for a temporary restraining order. According to the filing, this motion was a request to certify and count provisional ballots of the students that were thrown out.
While no one spoke in person at Tuesday’s special hearing in Birmingham, several students and AAMU employees filed written statements ahead of the federal court hearing.
In an affidavit submitted before the hearing, Jackson explained she is an AAMU student. She says she completed a paper registration form around noon on October 14 at an on-campus registration drive. Jackson said she registered with a friend at the same time.
On election day, Jackson testified that she and her friend went to the polls together. While her friend was registered, she was not and asked to cast a provisional ballot.
Kendra Jones testified she is a student at AAMU. She registered online at a voter-registration event October 10 by the Delta Delta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
In her testimony, Jones says she remembers completing the online form, clicking submit, after which, a screen came up ‘thanking me for my registration.’
The affidavit says Jones, to her knowledge, did not receive email confirmation her application was denied or accepted.
Simeon Sykes testified he is a student at AAMU and registered October 17.
Monica Clarke testified she is employed at AAMU as Freshman Academy Service Learning Coordinator and an adjunct English faculty member. Clarke said her office was in charge of voter registration across campus, conducted by her, graduate students, members of Indivisible Fifth and Vote Everywhere.
From Sept 16-Oct 10, Clarke says her office held 30 voter registration drives. She testified three additional voter registration drives occurred on Sept 25 by three campus organizations. Around 1,100 forms were returned to Clarke’s office to be inspected for errors, she says. Then, she said they were put into an envelope and taken to the Madison County Board of Registrars office.
Clarke testified she was a poll worker on election day, November 6. She says she witnessed students listed as “active” on the Secretary of State’s website listed as “inactive” with poll workers.
Virginia Bailey testified she is a member of Indivisible Fifth, an organization that engages in student voter registration. She said her organization held registration drives every week day between October 8-22.
Bailey said she often made trips to the Madison County Board of Registrars office to turn in applications for students. Each time, she testified, she signed in and gave her contact information. She went on to add she saw applications submitted from AAMU students.
On at least one occasion, Bailey says she met Clarke at the Registrar’s office as she turned in student applications.
Bailey also add she remembered helping AAMU band students with registration September 25. In the days to follow, Bailey says the students weren’t showing up in the system as registered as of October 19 -- students she says she personally registered. Undoubtedly, Bailey testified the applications were registered without error.