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December 22, 2014

Voters experience confusion after district rezoning

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Posted: Thursday, June 5, 2014 5:48 pm | Updated: 5:55 pm, Thu Jun 5, 2014.

David Smith went to vote at First Presbyterian Church for Tuesday’s primary, but learned he was not on the precinct's registered voter list.

When Smith, 68, arrived at the church, he was told to vote 3 miles away in Golden Springs.

“I don’t know if I will make it over there to vote because I have so many other things to do,” he said, as the polls were about to close.

Voters in 22 precincts had trouble finding the right polling place in Tuesday’s primary elections, Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin said. However, county elected officials say that’s not uncommon in an election that follows a census.

Martin fielded concerns from the precincts and said the majority came from areas in Anniston, Betta View Hills in Oxford, and Piedmont. In a phone interview Wednesday, Martin talked about the responsibilities handed down on Election Day.

“Certainly there were some people in and out of polling places that stated they had not received notice of their new polling location,” she said. “The Board of Registrars sends out postcards when there is redistricting and they were sent out months ago.”

Carolyn Henderson, a member of the board, said that district lines were redrawn in Anniston, Choccolocco, Oxford and White Plains. While many voiced their concerns, the same confusion is expected in every election, Henderson said.

“If they say they did not get a card, we look at the system, pull their names up and check the date to see when we sent them their card,” she said. “A lot of times if they have a post office box, they will give the address and not have a mailbox so it gets sent back by the post office.”

All Debora Morrow wanted to do was cast her ballot and go home on Tuesday. Morrow, 38, was not on the list of registered voters at First Presbyterian. She said she never received a notice.

“It is a waste of my time,” she said. “It is their job to send out papers showing this is where you are suppose to vote — before Election Day — and not when I get here to vote.”

Ken Joiner, county administrator for the Calhoun County Commission, said that measures were in place to ensure every voter was aware of changes in their status or district lines.

“When the census for the county is completed, it causes us to redraw the lines in order to maintain the integrity of the districts,” he said. “We even held public hearings on that when the lines were redrawn.”

County officials said that this problem couldn’t be directly attributed to how state governments handle elections. Martin said that at some point, the voter must be held accountable for knowing about the process.

“I, as a voter, have the responsibility of finding out for myself where I am supposed to vote,” she said. “I can’t put that off on someone else because I didn’t know.”

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