Poll glitch hinders some early voters

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 14, 2004

Even the downpours didn’t dampen the spirits of Butler County voters on Tuesday.

Despite the constant rains, and thunder and lightening that came at times the people of Butler County still took the time to go to the polls to vote in the primaries.

It would have been easy to stay away.

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But the people of Butler County knew that they had a choice to make and chose to cast their votes.

They were greeted at the polls with eager assistance and smiling faces.

Volunteers waited in the parking lot of some voting places with umbrellas to assist voters to the polls.

It was an all around effort to make the voting process as easy as possible.

The day didn’t start so smoothly at one polling place, the National Guard Armory, where some voters stood in line from 7 a.m. until just after 9 a.m. Tuesday morning before being allowed inside to vote.

According to Butler County Probate Judge Steve Norman, who was at the site, the person with the guard responsible for unlocking the door for poll workers never showed up.

&uot;They called me at about 6:15 a.m. to let me know that no one was here,&uot; he said.

&uot;I called and got a cell number off the answering machine here and finally got someone.&uot;

Norman said the man who finally got a key to the poll workers lived south of Andalusia, so it took some time for him to arrive.

As of 9:15 a.m., Norman said he wasn’t sure what they would end up doing about the poll opening late, but keeping them open later was an option.

&uot;I’ll have to confer with the secretary of state’s office and if we have to stay open later here, then I’ll have to get a court order to do so,&uot; he said.

About 11:15 a.m., Commissioner Jesse McWilliams who is running for reelection in District Two said the decision not to stay open any later had been made.

The armory is in McWilliams district.

Jeddo Bell, who served as poll inspector at the armory, said he was pleased with the turnout he had seen.

&uot;We have had a pretty good turnout so far,&uot; said Bell shortly after noon on Tuesday. &uot;Despite the weather the voters have been very, very pleasant and very tolerant.&uot;

Bell said despite the enthusiastic showing he hoped that the numbers would pick up even more by the end of the day.

&uot;We hope that it will get heavier as the day goes on,&uot; said Bell. &uot;We thought there may be more people than we have had so far, but maybe it will pick up later in the day.&uot;

Poll worker Jean Gilbert agreed things had gone well at the polls despite the poor weather.

&uot;The voters have been pretty steady so far,&uot; said Gilbert. &uot;Despite the weather they have been very pleasant.&uot;

Most of the reason for the voter’s attitude came because of the ease with which they were able to vote.

Voter Daisy Carter said when the time came she was well prepared.

&uot;I knew exactly where I was supposed to go,&uot; said Carter. &uot;There was no doubt about it.&uot;

Carter said everyone at the Armory had been a great help to her.

&uot;They were all very nice,&uot; said Carter. &uot;Everybody was very helpful.&uot;

Voter Virginia Stallings said things had changed a great deal from the first time she had gone to the polls.

&uot;The first time I had to vote I had to drive from the University of Alabama, pay a poll tax and take a literacy test,&uot; said Stallings. &uot;Now all I had to do was walk in, show some identification and cast my vote.&uot;

There had been a lot of preparation by many people to make the June 1 primary go smoothly.

Judge Steve Norman and all of the others involved in running the polls spent a great deal of time in polling schools and inspecting polling places.

Tuesday indicated that all of the hard efforts were worth it.