The Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners voted Tuesday to send Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson a letter explaining the reasons they have requested that early voting be moved out of the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The Jefferson County Board of Election Commissioners voted Tuesday to send Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson a letter explaining the reasons they have requested that early voting be moved out of the Jefferson County Courthouse.


Last week, Johnson said in a letter she saw no valid reason for the request and said early voting would be held at the courthouse.


In October, Commission Chairman Mike Adam sent Johnson a letter requesting the move, citing complaints about illegal campaigning in the hallways and in her office, and people who reportedly stood in line for three hours during the 2014 political party primaries and general election before they could vote.


"Stricter voting laws are going to make enforcement even more difficult," Adam said in the letter. "For example, a candidate who is a public official observing early voting shall not wear any uniform, badge or equipment that identify’s the candidate as a public official. No one is permitted to loiter in the voting area, which extends from your office to the voting room. That is in addition to enforcing the no electioneering provisions within 100 feet from the primary entrance."


Adam said in the letter than Johnson could conduct the early voting at the convention center and the commission would increase the number of voting machines used. Staff from the clerk’s office as well as special deputy clerks could process prospective voters from that location electronically, and a private entrance and control of the parking lot would preclude illegal campaigning.


A second option would be for Johnson to legally decline to conduct early voting at the courthouse and permit the commission to conduct the early voting at the convention center.


"The hours and days would remain unchanged," Adam said in the letter. "Arrangements can be made to permanently record votes in the voter registration record daily."


In her response to the letter, Johnson said she was "not knowledgeable of any voting violations during the early voting period at the Jefferson County Courthouse."


"My staff and I make every effort possible to conduct the voting consistent with state and federal laws, which we are sworn to uphold," Johnson said in the letter.


At the same meeting Tuesday, the commission agreed to ask the Jefferson County Attorney to initiate action removing John L. Thomas, who is the elected constable for Bogy Township from office on the grounds that he does not live in the township as required by law.


According to an E-mail that was sent to The Commercial, County Attorney Jackie Harris and others, Thomas used the address of 1414 Cottonwood Church Road in Sherrill when he was elected, an address which does not exist, and which Thomas allegedly admitted during the meeting was land where he farmed soybeans.


Tax records show that Thomas lives at an address on South Florida Street and voter registration records show that he was registered at that address until Nov. 6 when he changed his address to the non-existent address in Sherrill and filed an affidavit and political practices pledge for reelection.


Three days later, Thomas changed the voter registration again to an address in Wabbaseka and filed for election as Constable of Dunnington Township.


The commission E-mail said the bogus address disqualified Thomas from holding the Bogy Township Constable position, and when he changed his voter registration address, it also disqualified him from that office.


According to tax records, the Wabbaseka address is a single-wide mobile home owned by Thomas’ sister.