At the end of early voting, with polls set to open for Election Day, calls for election monitors and investigations into the Jefferson County Clerk’s office made their way to the State Board of Election Commissioners Monday. State Election Commissioner Stuart Soffer, in his capacity as a county election commissioner, said he’s asking for prosecutors and the State Police to investigate a number of alleged violations.
Soffer said Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal-Johnson has repeatedly ignored election laws including absentee ballot registering procedures.
“The County Clerk neglected to use a register for the first 30 days the ballots were available. She called up here to complain about me “bugging” her clerks about the register last week and had an ‘aw, shucks’ moment when Mr. Humphries [State Board's Legal Counsel] shared with her the fact that yes, you’re supposed to have a register. So now in Jefferson County we’ve got an unknown number of absentee ballots handled by agents and bearers that there’s no record of,” said Soffer.
Soffer's asked additional allegations be further investigated.
“The County Clerk has a got a right to have an opportunity to explain every one of them. Why she didn’t use the required absentee ballot register, for example? Why a removed voter in Pulaski County shows up on the roles in Jefferson County? Why it took her from 21 April to 14 May to process new voter registration applications? I’ll wager you a good dinner at a Ruth Chris’s Steakhouse that everyone of them voted early voting,” said Soffer.
When reached by KUAR News, County Clerk Patricia Royal-Johnson refused to go on tape and said she was unaware of any allegations including those Stoffer said he personally left at her offices. She also hung up after hearing the nature of the questions, saying she would not comment on the allegations.
The Board of Election Commissioners approved one election monitor to oversee absentee ballots, but declined to provide monitors in four Jefferson County precincts asking for assistance because of a failure by local officials to follow protocol and submit proper paperwork.