The Orange Beach Water Authority voted on Thursday night to ask the Baldwin County District Attorney’s office to look into possible wrongdoing in the recent election of a board member by its customer stakeholders.
Jack Robertson, one of three candidates for the position, related information from the authority’s attorney indicating of the 2,200 ballots cast — the most ever for a water board election — about 600 were considered tainted or of a different printing than the other 1,600 or so. He gave the board the option of throwing out the 600 and counting the remaining votes or sending the whole lot to the district attorney to investigate and hold a new election.
Board member Vince Lucido made a motion that was seconded by Kathy Brown to involve the district attorney. The three were the only members present who could vote because member Jimmy Boyd was out of town and Godbee Smith, one of three candidates for the seat, abstained.
Lagniappe has reached out to District Attorney Robert Wilters and Authority attorney Shawn Alves for comment.
Robertson had complained via Facebook saying the election process was faulty. He asserted he believes no one from the Authority or on the board cheated or tried to cheat. He posted a picture of one of the envelopes (above), sparking a lively debate.
“You could see through the envelope who you voted for,” Robertson said, suggesting Authority employees or board members could see which candidate had been selected before the sealed ballot was opened. But Robertson reiterated his assertion that he doesn’t believe anybody with the Authority or on its board would try to manipulate the election.
“In my heart, I don’t believe that anybody down there would cheat. I just don’t,” Robertson said. “All I’m saying is the voting process sucks. It’s set up to where if you wanted to manipulate it, it could easily be done. The high school king and queen for prom is a better election than they had.”
The printing on the 600 tainted ballots was in question, Robertson said.
“The writing on the envelope, the writing was a little bigger on them and they were in another box,” Robertson said. “None of the envelopes have been opened but these look a little different and they do look a little different. The printer said they didn’t do it.
Robertson at first wanted to seek a spot on the Orange Beach City Council but “a friend I respect” asked him not to run. He set his eye on a water board seat after hearing the Authority’s forgiveness policy if you have an undetected water leak at your house is harsher than other towns he checked into.
One he cited was in Silverhill if you have a leak and run up a water bill for $1,000 or more you have to pay about $360 of that bill. Robertson said in Orange Beach that fee is more than $800.
“If they would fix two or three things I wouldn’t even run,” Robertson said. “It pays $200 a month. But I just want to be competitive with other towns on our water forgiveness policy and a couple of other things. They have a policy but it’s not a good one.”
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