Some Alabama voters have strange option on ballot – dead incumbent or his living challenger

Published 11:23 am Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Voters in an Alabama city had an unusual choice in Tuesday’s municipal runoff election: Whether to vote for an incumbent who died recently or support his challenger.

William Carroll qualified earlier this year to run against two-term Mobile City Council member Levon Manzie, the council president. And even though Manzie died last month after an extended illness, his name was still on the ballot in mostly Black District 2, which Carroll once represented.

Carroll will be declared the winner if he gets the most votes, but another election will have to be held if Manzie wins since he is deceased. That’s possible, as WKRG-TV reported there are still posters and banners throughout the district asking voters to support Manzie. They include some that say “Our friend would still want to win” and others that say “Honor Levon’s legacy.”

Manzie received more than twice as many votes as Carroll in the first election, which included six candidates, and Carroll and supporters say an out-of-town political action committee controlled by white Republicans is still pushing Manzie as a candidate.

“These signs I believe are part of this PAC that is providing this work, to me there’s something not just right about this PAC. That’s why I say it’s time to heal District 2,” said Carroll.

Both Manzie and Carroll are Black, and the head of the local chapter of the NAACP recorded a video that was released by Carroll’s campaign claiming that conservative activists are attempting to manipulate voters by promoting Manzie, a well-respected pastor, following his death.

“His legacy will continue only through fair and just elections without the interference of special interest influence,” said the chapter president, Robert Clopton.

Manzie opposed an annexation plan promoted by the city administration, Clopton said, and proponents are trying to get someone elected who will flip Manzie’s vote and back the proposal.

Mayor Sandy Stimpson appointed Manzie’s mother, Jeanette Manzie, to serve the rest of her son’s current term, but she withdrew soon after.