County readies for primary

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 24, 2004

Sometimes during election time problems may arise.

One of the most common problems can be people showing up to vote where they are not supposed to vote.

In these situations provisional ballots come into play.

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In Butler County measures are being taken to make sure that situations like this will go as smoothly as possible.

&uot;Each polling place will have a special person to deal with this situation,&uot; said Probate Judge Steve Norman. &uot;If this situation does arise we will have the people in place to deal with it.&uot;

However, this is just one of many situations that may require the use of provisional votes.

According to Alabama state law a voter shall be required to cast a provisional ballot when:

n The name of the individual does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the precinct in which the individual seeks to vote, and the individual’s registration cannot be verified while at the polling place by the registrar, deputy registrar, or a member of the canvassing board.

n An inspector has knowledge that the individual is not entitled to vote at that precinct and challenges the individual.

n The individual is required to comply with the voter identification provisions of Section 17-10A-1 but is unable to do so.

n A federal or state court order extends the time for closing the polls beyond that established by state law and the individual votes during the extended period of time. Notwithstanding any other provision of state law, where provisional ballots are cast pursuant to a federal or state court order extending the time for closing the polls beyond that established by state law, the provisional ballots shall be segregated from other provisional ballots into a separate sealed container for such purpose and shall be counted, tabulated, and canvassed only pursuant to the order of a court having proper jurisdiction.

Norman did not feel that this would be a big problem in Butler County.

&uot;Usually this isn’t a big problem here,&uot; said Norman. &uot;We don’t anticipate it being a problem this time either but we will have people in place to take care of it.&uot;

Circuit Clerk Allen Stephenson said the goal is to eliminate the need for these ballots.

&uot;We hope that we will not need them,&uot; said Stephenson. &uot;We want to be able to communicate with everyone whose records do not match up so that we can prevent it.&uot;

If this situation can’t be prevented there will be a need for trained individuals to step in.

The main purpose of those who are trained to deal with provisional votes is to make sure that it is done correctly.

A very specific procedure is needed to make sure that the votes are cast the right way.

The procedure for casting a provisional ballot at the polling place shall be as follows:

nAn inspector at the polling place shall notify the individual that the individual may cast a provisional ballot in that election and shall give the individual written information that states that any individual who casts a provisional ballot will be able to ascertain under the system described in subsection (g) whether the vote was counted, and, if the vote was not counted, the reason that the vote was not counted.

nThe individual shall execute a written affirmation by the individual before the inspector or clerk stating the following:

nThe individual shall complete a voter reidentification form prescribed by the Secretary of State for use in updating the state voter registration list. This form shall indicate whether it is associated with a provisional ballot.

nWhere a provisional ballot is required on the basis of an inspector’s knowledge that a voter is not qualified to vote in the precinct in which the individual is seeking to vote, the inspector shall sign a statement under penalty of perjury setting forth facts which the inspector believes to support his or her belief that the individual is not qualified to vote in the precinct in which the voter is seeking to vote. The challenge statement of the inspector shall be written on a multi-part form prescribed for such purpose by the Secretary of State and the inspector shall give one copy to the provisional voter, provide one copy to be sealed with the provisional ballots, and provide one copy to be returned to the board of registrars in a sealed envelope.

nThe voter shall cast the provisional ballot and place it into a sealed ballot box separately identified and utilized for containing provisional ballots.

A training session will be held on Thursday May 13 at 5:30 p.m. at the Butler County Courthouse.

The meeting will hold an in depth description of provisional ballots and train the poll workers to deal with them.

Voters are asked to remember that the last day to register to vote in the June primaries will be May 21 (10 days before the primary.)

Election related questions may be answered by Circuit Clerk Allen Stephenson at 382-3521.