District Attorney Michael Jackson held a press conference in Selma on Wednesday morning, Jan. 11, to announce the indictment of long-serving Perry County Commissioner Albert Turner on charges of election fraud. Jackson was joined by Secretary of State John Merrill.
“These are allegations… right now he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Jackson noted.
Jackson and Merrill released few details about the indictments that day, which were announced minutes before press time for this week’s edition.
Jackson opened the press conference by noting the long history of voting rights and Civil Rights activism in the Black Belt and especially Perry County. He said this made these allegations particularly troubling.
“In the May election, [Turner] got indicted for stuffing ballots in a machine,” said Jackson. “This was at the Armory. He was there most of the day stuffing filled out ballots in the machine for candidates he was supporting.”
“The second situation is, was in the Nov. election, he had stacks of absentee ballots” at the post office, “this is, of course, harvesting the ballots,” said Jackson.
“Everybody knows you can’t be feeding the machine, with folks voting more than once, feeding the machine on who you’re supporting,” he said.
“This case will be passed on to the Attorney General’s office,” Jackson noted.
Jackson is the outgoing District Attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, having lost his bid for re-election in this year’s Democratic primary to Marion attorney Robert H. Turner, Jr., who is Albert Turner’s cousin.
“Witnesses came forward with the first situation [in the Democratic primary] in May. I didn’t seek the evidence out, but once it started coming forward then we felt like we had enough to present it to a Perry County grand jury,” Jackson said. The grand jury returned two indictments based on the evidence Jackson’s office present them, he said.
“We had a situation in Perry County where there were allegations about voter fraud going on,” several years ago, Jackson said. “Outrageous allegations about how votes were being sold. I’ve heard the cry of citizens…it discourages people from running if you know your opponent is going to have a million absentee ballots, or your opponent is going to do something with the machines. But it also discourages people from voting.”
Jackson said this was an ongoing investigation. He asked anyone with any information about irregularities in this or any other election in the Black Belt to contact his office, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office, or the Alabama Secretary of State’s Office.