Madison County lawmaker David Cole arrested on illegal voting charge

By Mike Cason

David Wayne Cole was arrested for Fraud Voting are multiple or unauthorized locations.

Alabama State Rep. David Cole of Madison was arrested Tuesday on a charge of voting at multiple or unauthorized locations.

Cole, 52, was booked into the Madison County jail Tuesday afternoon on the charge, which is a Class C felony.

Cole was charged with violating Code of Alabama 17-17-28, which says, “Any person who knowingly presents false identification in order to vote at a polling place where he or she otherwise would not be qualified to vote, or who knowingly votes at a polling place where he or she has not been authorized to vote, or who knowingly votes at more than one polling place in the same election on the same day shall be guilty, upon conviction, of a Class C felony.”

Cole was elected to the Legislature in November, representing District 10. But AL.com’s Kyle Whitmire reported in July that Cole lived in District 4.

In 2020, Cole’s primary opponent Anson Knowles complained to Alabama Republican Party officials that Cole had not resided in the district for a year prior to the election, as required by state law. The party left Cole on the ballot, but removed Knowles for having been involved with the Libertarian Party.

In the general election, Cole defeated Democrat Marilyn Lands and Libertarian Elijah Boyd to win the seat. Boyd later contested Cole’s victory in court.

Earlier this year, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the Alabama Legislature would have to determine whether Cole was qualified to hold the office.The Legislature completed its regular session and a subsequent special session without taking action on Cole’s qualification for office.

If found guilty of the felony charge, Cole would automatically lose his seat in the Alabama House.

Alabama House Speaker Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville, issued a statement about Cole’s arrest.

“This afternoon, the Speaker’s Office became aware of David Cole’s arrest on the charge of fraud—voting at an unauthorized location,” Ledbetter said. “As this is an ongoing investigation, we are still waiting to learn more details as they become available.

“In recent years, the Alabama House has prioritized legislation that promotes election integrity, and we believe that any allegation of fraud must be addressed regardless of the party, public official, or candidate involved.

“Alabamians may remain confident that their elections are conducted honestly, their votes are cast and counted fairly, and their ballot boxes are secure. Now, it is up to a court of law to determine the validity of the allegations Cole is facing, and I anticipate Alabama’s election laws will withstand their true intent.”