Dothan commissioner's girlfriend indicted on voter fraud charges

Published 06/20 2014 02:28PM

Updated 06/24 2014 11:01PM

A Dothan woman closely associated with a city commissioner has been indicted on 23 charges of voter fraud. A grand jury decided there is enough evidence against Olivia Reynolds to take the case to trial. Reynolds is the girlfriend of Dothan commissioner Amos Newsome.

She and two other women were arrested May 9 on charges they committed voter fraud in the campaign for District Two that saw Newsome re-elected last August. She was charged with 26 counts. A source not authorized to speak publicly about the case said the other three cases against Reynolds were likely continued because of problems scheduling witnesses.

Also charged are Janice Hart, accused of 20 counts, and Lesa Coleman who is charged with 10 counts. As of Friday afternoon indictments against them had not been docketed. Grand jury action is not public record until the indictments are processed in Houston County Circuit Court.

Newsome’s win came on the strength of absentee ballots that favored him by a 119-5 margin. That brought complaints of possible wrongdoing by Danzey and her supporters. The Houston County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation spanning several weeks and involving more than 100 witnesses. The findings were turned over to District Attorney Doug Valeska.

A civil challenge was filed in Houston County Circuit Court seeking to have Danzey declared the winner of the race. However, the case was dismissed in January upon agreement of attorneys representing Danzey and Newsome.

A story published August 8, 2014 on indicated several ballots were apparently mailed to people at homes where they haven’t resided in several years. It’s not clear why the applications were mailed to the wrong address but some people said they believe others voted using their name.

Specifically, the defendants are accused of violation of Section 17 of the Alabama Criminal Code. The statute reads “Any person who willfully changes an absentee voter's ballot to the extent that it does not reflect the voter's true ballot, any person who willfully votes more than once by absentee ballot in the same election, any person who willfully votes for another voter or falsifies absentee ballot applications or verification documents so as to vote absentee, or any person who solicits, encourages, urges, or otherwise promotes illegal absentee voting, shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a Class C felony. Any person who willfully aids any person unlawfully to vote an absentee ballot, any person who knowingly and unlawfully votes an absentee ballot, and any voter who votes both an absentee and a regular ballot at any election shall be similarly punished.“

Newsome has not been implicated of wrongdoing.

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