Officials not certain that felons voted

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 10, 2001

It may be weeks before officials at the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s Office can say for certain whether felons convicted of disinfranchsing crimes voted in past elections.

Circuit Clerk M.L. &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines said last week his staff noticed an unusually large amount of cases dating back to 1997 listed in computer records as being dismissed, meaning the charges against a person had been dropped.

Because the number of dismissed cases numbered more than 600, Vines and Deputy Clerk Marge Alexander suspected some of the cases were actually closed and had been misidentified in computer records when software was updated in 1997.

Vines said Monday he has assigned two deputy clerks to go back through original files and determine whether the case was actually dismissed or closed.

If it was in fact closed and the person was convicted of certain felonies listed by the state to be disenfranchising, clerks will search for their name in the voter rolls.

Phil Carter, special assistant to the attorney general, said not all felonies are disinfranchising, only those originally listed in the state Constitution plus others the attorney general has interpreted through the years to be serious enough to cost a person his or her right to vote.

In August 2000, the attorney general issued an opinion that added the crimes of armed robbery, robbery, receiving stolen property, extortion and felony shoplifting to the list of disinfranchising crimes.

Larry Gardner, chairman of the Adams County Election Commission, has said the responsibility of purging the voter rolls and removing the names of persons convicted of disenfranchising crimes belongs to the election commission and that no convicted felons have voted or served on juries in Adams County.

Gardner could not further comment on Monday, citing time constraints and the upcoming election.