State Supreme Court Revisits Election Lawsuit, Huckabee Visits Alabama

Oct 1, 2015

Former Tuscaloosa Board of Education member Kelly Horwitz

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former member of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education who says illegal votes cost her a 2013 re-election.

Kelly Horwitz says her opponent for a school board seat in 2013, Cason Kirby, benefited from illegal votes cast by members of University of Alabama fraternities and sororities. She claims some of those votes were the result of bribery, with Greek members pressuring classmates and offering free drinks or concert tickets to get people to vote.

The state Supreme Court found that 159 votes in the race were illegally cast based on voter residency and other eligibility issues. Just under 750 total ballots were cast in the election; Horwitz only needed to prove that 87 votes were invalid to contest the results.

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday to send the case back down to a trial court to continue to challenge the election results. The voters who cast the illegal ballots could be subpoenaed to testify about who they voted for.

GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is set to visit the state of Alabama today.

The former Arkansas governor is making stops in Florence, Sylacauga, Selma, and Dothan during his time in the Yellowhammer state.

Terry Lathan is the chairwoman of the Alabama Republican Party. She says Alabama is a hot spot for GOP hopefuls like Huckabee.

“They’re leaving Iowa, they’re leaving New Hampshire, they’re leaving South Carolina, and they’re coming to Alabama and they’ve been here since summer. Now it's fall and they’re still coming, and we expect more. They’re trying to get our attention, is what they’re trying to do. They’re waving a big ol’ red flag in front of us.”

Huckabee is the seventh Republican candidate to visit the state thus far. Democratic contender Hillary Clinton will be in Hoover later this month. She will be the first Democratic candidate to visit Alabama in this campaign.

Shopping in Alabama will become a little more high tech starting today.

Retailers are required to start accepting a new type of credit card called a chip and pin card. The new cards have an embedded computer chip as well as a personal identification number that customers have to remember to make purchases. Merchants will have to spend up to three hundred dollars for new machines that recognize the new cards.

Nancy Dennis is with the Alabama Retail Association. She says store owners can get into trouble if they don’t use the new system.

“If a bank has issued a chip card, and the retailer doesn’t have a chip reader, then the retailer becomes liable for any counterfeit or lost or stolen cards, in some instances. VISA is still covering lost and stolen cards, but the other companies are not.”

Dennis warns that some banks are issuing a different kind of card called chip and signature. Those cards aren’t considered as safe because they don’t need a PIN to buy things.

The Etowah County Visitation Project has been allowed to continue their regular visits to immigrant detainees after being banned for nearly a month.

Since 2011, the group has been meeting with the 270 or so immigrants awaiting deportation at the Etowah County Detention Center. Earlier this year, the visitation project joined forces with a national immigrant advocacy group to submit a formal complaint about abuse and poor conditions at the facility. That complaint alleged immigrants were harassed and abused by immigration agents, and received inadequate food and medical care.

After the complaint was filed, Etowah County’s sheriff Todd Entrekin suspended the group’s visits, saying they were refusing to follow rules and verbally abusing jail employees. The Southern Poverty Law Center took up the case, arguing the lack of visitation access was a violation of First Amendment rights.

Now, the group has their visitation rights reinstated. They’re planning to meet with detainees again next week.

Ed. note: Kelly Horwitz is a member of the "Friends of WUAL", a citizen's group that supports Alabama Public Radio.