Second lawsuit filed to stop printing of primary ballots

Second lawsuit filed to stop printing of primary ballots
Source: WBRC video

BESSEMER, AL (WBRC) - A second lawsuit has been filed against Probate Judge Alan King seeking to stop the printing of the June 5th primary ballot without including voters in the Bessemer cutoff.

Democrat Jefferson County Circuit Clerk candidate Elizabeth McGowen Watkins filed suit Monday.

Watkins said it had been her understanding that because the race is for circuit clerk of Jefferson County the ballots would be printed countywide, but she found out that wasn't the case.

"I pulled up the sample ballot and my name is not printed in the cutoff", Watkins said.

Watkins grew up in Hueytown, an area in the Bessemer cutoff division. She also lives in Hoover, also in the cutoff.

"I tried to be okay with the fact that I could still get nominated and then be able to vote for myself in the general election, but the more I wrestled with it and thought about it  and was literally losing sleep about it and the idea that my own mother could not vote for me was just wrong," she continued.

A 1951 law makes it that only the people in the Birmingham division can vote for the Jefferson county circuit clerk in the primary election. Watkins said the law is old and needs to be revisited.

"It's one that someone needs to look at it with the new set of eyes and see how we can do things differently to better help the citizens of Jefferson County," said Watkins.

Watkins complaint, joins a suit by GOP Jefferson Co. DA candidate Bill Veitch. "I'm excluded from voting for me. I smell a rat," Veitch said.

Friday, Veitch spoke with WBRC FOX6 News about his lawsuit. Veitch is running for the Republican nomination for Jefferson County District Attorney. He was gr anted a temporary restraining order to stop the ballots from being printed for the primary.  

"They were going to print the ballot that would have excluded Hoover, Bessemer, McCalla, Hueytown and Pleasant Grove. It would have excluded to vote for people in charge of them," Veitch said.         

Veitch contends the primary election should include all of the Bessemer cutoff not just the Birmingham district. Monday members of the Jefferson County Election Commission met and were updated on the lawsuit. The commission is not commenting because of the pending lawsuit.  

"I believe there is a lot of merit to this lawsuit because it has never been done before," Roger Appell, Birmingham attorney and legal analyst said.

A 1953 law calls for only voters in the Birmingham district to vote on the Birmingham DA in the primary. There will be countywide voting in the November general election.

Could the lawsuit impact the June 5th primary?  

"I believe it will very quickly. Once it's decided one way or another, each side would have the right to appeal but that would be done in an expedited matter. Alabama Supreme Court would rule very quickly," Appell said.

A court hearing is set now for April 27th.

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