Tuscaloosa School Board Challenge May Chart New Legal Waters

Oct 15, 2013

EDITOR'S NOTE--- The judge in the case has ruled that Horwitz has met legal requirements and the case can proceed to trial. Pat D.

Tuscaloosa Board of Education incumbent Kelly Horwitz may set new a legal precedence with her formal challenge of the District 4 school board race in Tuscaloosa, assuming she wins her case. Her legal team argued before a Tuscaloosa County judge that 397 votes were illegally cast during the August election. Judge John Carroll is Dean of The Cumberland Law School at Samford University. He says it looks like Horwitz’ legal strategy is to get the votes set aside, which may be difficult…

“The questions being raised in this case really have not been answered in any way, shape, or form, by the Alabama Supreme Court,” says Carroll. “ I think it’s difficult to say. There are very, very serious allegations being made about what happened in the Horowitz allegation. But, again, I think basically, you’re in uncharted waters.”

The vote generated statewide attention when members of University of Alabama fraternities and sororities offered limo rides for student members who wanted to go to the polls. Further, these student groups reportedly offered wrist bands for free alcoholic drinks at a nearby bar. If true, this act could be in violation of an Alabama State law against incentives for votes. Cason Kirby was declared the winner of the race against Horwitz. He told al.com that her charges are unfounded.

“What Horwitz is trying to do is disenfranchise an entire class of student votes based on supposition and not evidence,” Kirby told the website. “The irony is that Horwitz has testified that she went to the same sorority and fraternity houses actively seeking votes from the same students she now claims as illegal votes.”

Judge Carroll thinks, at least, this case will prompt election officials to take a closer look at the student voter registration process. And as to how the allegations will pan out, that will depend on what evidence she and her legal team can present.

“I don’t know what proof she has,” says Judge Carroll. “The allegations in the matters that are contained in the papers I’ve seen filed by her lawyers indicate they have some substantial evidence that, at least in their minds that, the integrity of the process was undermined.”

The judge in the case will weigh the evidence and decide whether the case can go forward.

We had help on this story by APR student intern Taylor Wray—Pat D.