A judge in Alabama has upheld the conviction of Olivia Lee Reynold (66), who had been found guilty of 24 counts of absentee ballot fraud. According to Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Reynolds was convicted on August 5.
Reynolds is one of three women involved in ballot fraud during the Dothan municipal election of 2013. She worked for District 2 City Commissioner Amos Newsome, who defeated his rival, Lamesa Danzey, by 14 votes. Reynolds also worked on Newsome’s campaign. It was on his behalf that she engaged in some serious ballot-stuffing. Because of her position, she had access to methods of voter fraud. The sheriff determined that there were numerous instances of ballot fraud in the 2013 election, and thus moved to arrest Reynolds in 2014.
Dothan City Councilman Newsome was arrested later on assault charges after striking a television reporter. The reporter had sought to question him about ballot fraud. Newsome was convicted of third degree assault in April 2016.
Reynolds apologized to the court during her first trial for the ballot fraud. “I apologize,” Reynolds said. “I had no intention of doing anything wrong. I was just trying to help the citizens.” She was sentenced to two years in prison.
During the 2015 trial in a Houston County Circuit Court, residents who had not voted for Newsome testified that their absentee ballots had been cast for them. A jury deliberated for less than an hour and found Reynolds guilty. Reynolds then tried, unsuccessfully, to get the conviction reversed in appeals court. The Attorney General's Criminal Appeals Section fought to have the convictions upheld.
Reynolds was the last person to be convicted in the voter fraud case. Lesa Coleman (50) was sentenced to 180 days in Houston County Jail, followed by three years of probation after she was found guilty of seven counts of absentee ballot fraud in April 2015. Janice Hart (65) was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor fraud charges. Because of her “serious medical problems,” Reynolds sought a commutation of her sentence.
Upon her conviction in September 2015, Reynold’s lawyer said he saw racial discrimination in the prosecution of the ballot fraud. Attorney Chris Capps claimed during the trial that the election fraud investigation and criminal charges against Reynolds amounted to an effort to eliminate absentee voting in a racial minority district. Capp also said that the investigation was a witch-hunt directed at Amos Newsome.
Assistant District Attorney Banks Smith told the jury, “They not only defrauded Lamesa Danzey, but all of us when they stole that election.” Smith added, “When the integrity of the ballot is lost we all lose.” He contended that the case was not about race or any other political agenda on the part of Albama other than voter fraud. Smith reminded the members of the jury that one of the flags that alerted investigators was that 95 percent of the absentee ballots were for one candidate. Amos Newsome.
Capps asked why authorities did not investigate absentee voting in other districts of the city of Dothan. He told jurors there are two minority districts in the city of Dothan, one of which included Newsome and former Commissioner James Reading. Caps claimed that no one was questioned in the Reading election race because he lost his position on the commission. “The only interest is to cut down Mr. Newsome and his ability to get votes,” Capps said. “I submit to you not a one of them was illegal.”
“I’m going to ask you to look at the whole picture,” Capps said. “She (Reynolds) has done nothing wrong in this case, and I’d ask you to reach a not guilty verdict.”