Although the University of Alabama maintains that it has no legal authority to do its own investigation into the recent Tuscaloosa municipal election, it will use what means it has at its disposal to discipline students if a legal challenge over the election outcome is successful. If the courts determine that students acted in violation of the university’s Code of Conduct on this last election day, the school will discipline them accordingly.
The legal challenge stems from the controversy over the defeat of Tuscaloosa City Board of Education member Kelly Horowitz who blames the election’s outcome on voter fraud by UA students. Horowitz isn’t the first one to raise questions about student-related electoral misconduct. On prior occasions Denise Hill, who lost the race for school board chair to Lee Garrison, also blamed her defeat on the students but chose not to pursue a legal challenge.
“The University of Alabama does not have the authority to investigate the outcome of a municipal election, including allegations about which students chose to vote in that election, for whom they voted or why they cast the votes they did,” Bonner wrote. “As soon as the courts and appropriate state and/or local agencies have completed their investigation and the facts are known, the university will be in a position to take the appropriate action, including an internal investigation if necessary.”
The allegations first have to be investigated by the appropriate agencies, Bonner wrote.
According to Ashley Chaffin of Tuscaloosa News, Bonner assured those calling on the university to take a stand that any inappropriate activities identified by the authorities will result in a punishment. Anyone found to be in violation of either Alabama election laws or the Student Code of Conduct will have their cases handled by the school’s Office of Student Conduct.
Melissa Brown of All Alabama reports that Horowitz alleged that students voted in the municipal election despite the fact that they were not eligible to vote in the district due to not fulfilling the residency requirement.
In a statement released alongside the suit filing, Horowitz says her complaint alleges that many of the votes cast in the election were from people who were not eligible to vote in the district.
“…Perhaps inadvertently in many instances, and deliberately in other cases, individuals voted in the district despite the fact that they had not resided in the district for the legally required length of time, or registered at addresses at which they did not live,” Horowitz said. “I believe that these votes were wrongly cast, wrongly constituted a margin of victory for my opponent, and wrongly disenfranchised the legitimate voters of District Four, including both students and longtime residents of Tuscaloosa’s downtown neighborhoods.”