HUNTSVILLE — An Oneida couple was arrested Tuesday evening on charges of voter registration fraud, stemming from an investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation into the illegal registration of nearly four dozen voters in September 2012.
Carrie Botts, 29, and his wife, Christina Botts, 37, were arrested Tuesday evening, hours after indictments were handed down by a Scott County grand jury.
According to a news release by the TBI, Christina Botts was indicted on 13 counts of illegal voter registration fraud, while her husband was indicted on one count. They were taken to the Scott County Jail and booked on bonds of $25,000 and $1,000, respectively.
The TBI investigation was requested in October 2012 by District Attorney General Lori Phillips-Jones. The Scott County Sheriff's Department was also involved with the investigation.
Allegedly, Christina Botts registered 43 voters illegally, while her husband registered one voter illegally and forged a signature on the voter registration application. According to the TBI, the couple were altering address information on the registration forms so that it appeared that they lived inside Huntsville.
The alleged incidents occurred two months before last November's municipal election in Huntsville, which found Charles "Buster" Sexton, who was an alderman at the time, squaring off against incumbent mayor George W. Potter in the mayoral race, while challengers Steven Asberry and Jody Newport squared off against incumbents Paul Lay, Kris Lewallen and Mark Love for four alderman seats. Ultimately, Potter was re-elected, while Asberry, Lay, Love and Newport were elected to the board of aldermen. A pair of hotly contested referendums regarding liquor-by-the-drink sales and package stores were also on the ballot. Both failed.
According to a source who spoke to the Independent Herald on condition of anonymity, suspicions of local election officials were raised after eight persons were registered to vote at the same address nearly two months before the election. That address turned out to be a single-wide trailer.
The TBI's report does not tie any elected official or candidate to the alleged voter registration fraud, and a motive for the alleged voter registrations was not mentioned.