Clinton, LA (NBC33) — Chief Eddie Stewart said Wednesday the Clinton Police Department is investigating voter fraud related to this month's election.
Stewart said he received a list of 115 names of voters who allegedly cast illegal ballots. Only 879 votes were cast, so the claim would involve more than 13 percent of the total.
Stewart said those people might have voted in Clinton's elections for mayor and alderman without living in the town. He said his department is also looking into accusations of vote buying.
Robert Flowers thought something was wrong as soon as the tally was posted on election night.
"My reaction, along with my staff, my family, and all the voters who voted for me, we were in disbelief," he said.
Flowers ran for mayor against incumbent Don Reason and Alderwoman Lori Bell. Prior to the vote, Flowers thought he would be in good shape to force a runoff against Mayor Reason. Instead, he missed out by 230 votes.
Even without the votes in question, Flowers still would not have made the top two.
He refused to say who he thought might have been responsible for the suspicious votes.
"These are allegations and it's left to be seen whether or not they'll be proven true," he said. "Now, I'm not going to go to bed tonight and say, 'lord, let it come true, let somebody do this and let somebody do that."
Residents in Clinton say they cannot remember any instances of voter fraud like this. Flowers is worried about how the allegations, even if found to be baseless, will affect the town.
"That's only another black eye for this town," he said. "We don't need any more bad publicity. What we need right now is a coming-together."
The Secretary of State's office told NBC33 that it had not received the list of suspicious votes Wednesday night, so it would have to wait until Monday to discuss the investigation with Chief Stewart.
Flowers says he just wants to move on.
"And I firmly believe that, in the future, if I'm not mayor, whoever the mayor is, we need to support that mayor and try to make Clinton better," he said. "We have some good people here in Clinton, and I still believe in those people."
Flowers had not heard about the fraud investigation until notified by NBC33. That was also true for Bell, who declined comment for this story.
Mayor Reason's office was closed when the investigation was announced, and NBC33 was unable to reach him for comment.