Jefferson County Clerk Patricia Royal Johnson has accepted a letter of warning from the state Board of Election Commissioners to settle a complaint that she violated numerous election laws during the 2014 primary/judicial elections.
Specifically, the board found:
* She had failed to identify bearers on return absentee ballot envelopes, an action that “severely compromised the election commission’s ability to count such ballots.” The requirement that bearers sign a register under oath is an anti-fraud measure, the letter from the state Board noted.
* She failed to require candidates to file required documents and to properly certify a list of qualified candidates.
Said the letter:
Generally, your failures and omissions have the effect of undermining public confidence in the integrity of the election process and must not go uncorrected. Failure to follow all of your statutory duties in future elections will result in more severe sanctions by this board.
The Election Commission also released the original complaint by David Singer, an officer of the Jefferson County Republican Committee, with responses from the clerk, who is a Democrat. In some cases, the Commission couldn’t find proof to disprove the clerk’s assertion that she had no responsibility or awareness of problems cited.
A special prosecutor has been appointed to review State Police findings in a review of unspecified activities in the office. Among other controversies, Johnson certified for the ballot some candidates for municipal office that were not up for election this year. It was part of local political infighting with current city officials. It’s likely some of the State Police probe covers at least some of the ground the Election Commission covered.
Johnson is unopposed for re-election.