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Alabama legislator agrees to plead guilty to voter fraud

Republican Rep. David Cole of Huntsville will plead guilty to a charge of voting in an unauthorized location. He will resign when he enters his guilty plea.
The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.
The Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery.Taylor Hill / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama legislator has agreed to plead guilty to a felony voter fraud charge that he used a fraudulent address to run for office in a district where he did not live, according to an agreement filed Thursday.

Republican Rep. David Cole of Huntsville will plead guilty to a charge of voting in an unauthorized location, according to a plea agreement filed in state court. He will resign from office on the day he enters his guilty plea.

Cole, a doctor and Army veteran, was elected to the House of Representatives last year. According to a plea agreement, Cole signed a lease in 2021 to pay $5 per month for a “5X5 space” in a home in order to run for office in House District 10. Cole had some mail sent there, but never lived there and never “stepped past the entry foyer” on the two times he visited the location, according to the plea agreement.

Alabama law requires candidates to live in a legislative district for one year before they run for office. Cole signed the lease for the space two days after a redistricting plan was enacted that placed the home, where Cole had lived since 2014, in another House district. Cole in 2022 signed a lease for an apartment in District 10, but he continued to claim a property tax break from the county by saying he resided at his house.

“Dr. Cole admits and takes full responsibility for the mistakes he made in the political process. He entered the process to serve his community. he has lived a life of service including serving for 22 years in the Army with tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Egypt,” Bill Espy, a lawyer representing Cole, said in a statement on Cole’s behalf.

According to the plea agreement, Cole will serve 60 days in the Madison County Jail and the remainder of a three-year sentence on unsupervised probation.

Cole’s arrest on Tuesday comes after accusations surfaced that he did not live in the district in which he was elected.

Elijah Boyd, the Libertarian candidate in the district, had filed an election challenge in civil court, arguing that Cole did not live in District 10 and was not eligible to represent the district.