(H/T – Sister Toldjah)
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports that 8 people in Clay County, Kentucky, including a then-sitting (and now-senior) circuit judge, the superintendent of schools in Clay County, the county clerk (one of 4 members of the county Board of Elections, along with the sheriff, and representatives from the Republican and Democratic Parties), the Democratic appointed member of said Board of Elections, and the Democratic and Republican election judges in Manchester, Kentucky for the 2002 and 2004 election cycles, were indicted yesterday for buying and corrupting elections between 2002 and 2006.
The indictment is a rather interesting read. A quick summary:
- The judge, Russell Cletus Maricle, and the superintendent, Douglas C. Adams, styled themselves as the political bosses of Clay County, causing the appointment of corrupt people to the elections board and “recruiting” local candidates to run on a “slate” that would be guaranteed to win election.
- The Democratic member of the election board, Charles Wayne Jones, appointed elections officers who would do the bidding of himself, Maricle and Adams, including buying votes and changing votes that voters thought were properly cast but were actually not (more on that last item in a bit).
- The clerk, Freddy W. Thompson, used his position, to which he was elected in 2002 (the start of this conspiracy) to instruct corrupt election officers on how to change votes. He also supplied money used to buy votes and also is charged with lying to a federal grand jury.
- William E. Stivers, the Democratic election judge in Manchester in 2002 and 2004, handled the marking of voters whose votes were bought, and also participated in extortion schemes.
- Paul E. Bishop, the Republican election judge in Manchester in 2002 and 2004, also handled the marking of voters whose votes were bought, and also hosted “fundraisers” for the vote-buying scheme.
- William B. Morris and Debra L. Morris, who own a sanitation business that has contracts with Manchester and Clay County, provided money for the vote-buying scheme.
- In addition, Maricle and Stivers are charged with instructing one of the two Manchester election judges in 2006, identified as “W.W.” in the indictment, as participating in the vote-switching scheme to lie to a grand jury. The other person, identified by the Herald-Leader as Charles “Dobber” Weaver, previously pled guilty to vote-switching charges.
While the vote-buying scheme was part of all three election cycles, the introduction of touch-screen voting machines in 2006 introduced a new, more-insidious method for this cabal to exploit. Summarizing Count 9, for which Maricle, Jones, Thompson and Stiver have been indicted:
- Thompson and Jones appointed Weaver and “W.W.” as the Republican and Democratic election judges in the Manchester precinct, and instructed them to “…tell voters that when they had pushed a button labeled ‘Vote’ that their votes had been cast, when, in fact, that function merely provided a review screen of the voter’s selections in each race, and that the further step of pushing the ‘Cast Ballot’ button was required.”
- When the misled voters left the voting booth with a ballot they thought they properly completed but hadn’t, one of those two would enter the booth, change the vote to the “slate” decided by Maricle, and then complete the casting of the ballot.
According to the Kentucky State Board of Elections, Clay County currently uses exclusively the ES&S iVotronic. While the current version does not use the verbiage mentioned in the indictment (it’s “review” to review and “vote” to finish casting the ballot), and I cannot confirm that the iVotronic was used in 2006, it otherwise does match up with the method described in the indictment. Further, the iVotronic does not produce a paper record, much less one that is actually handled by the voter, although there is now option for a “paper-under-glass” audit feature (again, I do not know whether this version is in use in Clay County).