Election official says she was told to steal votes from U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers

bestep@herald-leader.comFebruary 25, 2010 

A former precinct worker said during testimony Wednesday that a Clay County election official told her to steal votes from U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers in a 2006 election.

The main purpose of the vote-stealing scheme was to help local candidates, but Charles Wayne Jones, the county's Democratic election commissioner, also wanted to hurt the longtime Republican congressman, said Wanda White.

"We voted as many as we could against" Rogers, White testified in the trial of eight Clay County residents charged with conspiring to buy or steal votes.

Those charged are former Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle; former county school Superintendent Douglas Adams; county Clerk Freddy Thompson; Jones; William Stivers, a former election officer; Magistrate Stanley Bowling; and William "Bart" Morris and his wife, Debra. The eight have denied the charges and have said prosecution witnesses have lied.

The effort to take votes from Rogers in one Manchester precinct wouldn't have made a difference. He won by a large margin.

But the alleged scheme to steal votes had greater effect in local races.

White testified that 150 people sold their votes at the Manchester precinct where she worked in May 2006 and that she and another precinct official switched the votes of 100 others.

They did that by duping people into leaving the voting machine before completing their choices, then going in and changing the votes to benefit a slate of candidates backed by Maricle and others, White said.

White testified that after the FBI began investigating the 2006 election and others, Maricle told her not to volunteer information and sent her to see Stivers about her concerns about testifying to a federal grand jury.

Stivers went over a list of questions to suggest how she should testify to the grand jury, White said.

On a tape recording she secretly made, Stivers told her several times not to lie. But he also suggested she not say she had formal meetings with Maricle or others about the election, and told her she didn't change any votes.

"You don't admit to nothing, Wanda," Stivers said on the tape.

Attorneys for Maricle and others raised questions about White's testimony.

For instance, White said she could remember the names of only five of the 150 people she estimated had sold their votes with her complicity in 2006, and couldn't remember the names of any of the 100 people whose votes she changed.

White also had testified that Maricle approached her in late 2004 about serving as an election officer in 2006, saying he wanted her to switch from Republican to Democrat to help his plan.

But Maricle's attorney, David Hoskins, pointed out that White made that switch months earlier, according to registration documents.

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