City hopes Oct. 9 runoff goes smoothly
by Laura Camper
lcamper@annistonstar.com
Oct 02, 2012 | 3636 views |  0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
On Oct. 9, voters from two Anniston council wards will again head to the polls to vote for their favored candidates in a runoff election, and the city is hoping to avoid some problems that popped up in the August election.

The crowded fields during the August election – three candidates in Ward 2 and five in Ward 4 – split the votes enough that no candidate received the 50-percent-plus-one vote required to win. The top two vote-getters from those races will go head-to-head for the offices: Sheffton Goodson and David Reddick in Ward 2 and Marcus Dunn and Millie Harris in Ward 4.

But when voters head to the polls, City Clerk Alan Atkinson hopes to avoid an issue with some voting machines that caused problems in August.

Some of the machines weren’t set up properly, Atkinson said. A flap that allows the ballots to go through the machine and into a box in the stand was closed, causing the ballots to jam up in the machine.

“It was a simple fix,” Atkinson said, and the city will make sure it won't happen the second time around.

The city is required to do a public test of the voting machines prior to Election Day. But during those tests before the August races, Atkinson only made sure the machines counted the votes accurately. Not enough ballots were fed into the machine for it to jam, the city clerk said.

This Wednesday, at 9 a.m. the city will again test the machines at the Calhoun County Annex building on Noble Street. This time, that flap will be on the check-list, Atkinson said.

Another issue brought up by voters was confusion about polling places. The Anniston Country Club became a new polling place for some Ward 4 voters. But people were more confused that their municipal polling places differed from where they go to vote for county races, Atkinson said.

Before the August election, the city sent out postcards to voters to let them know where to cast their votes in the municipal elections. There was also a statewide election in September, when people voted at the different, county polls. The polling places for statewide elections don’t always follow city ward lines, Atkinson said. So voters can vote in one place for a statewide election and another for a municipal election.

The confusion, Atkinson said, was probably from the county and the city sending out the various postcards.

Still, Atkinson said he didn’t receive too many phone calls from voters on Aug. 28.

“I didn’t get a lot of complaints,” Atkinson said. “No more than normal.”

If people aren’t sure where they should be voting, Atkinson invited them to call him at 256-231-7710 or the Board of Registrars at 256-241-2930 to check.

Carolyn Henderson of the Calhoun County Board of Registrars agreed the different polling places for county and city races can be confusing to the voters. But Henderson said it would not be feasible for the county to use the city’s polling places because of the different types of elections it organizes: federal, state and county.

The polling places that will be open on Oct. 9 are:

- For Ward 2 — Carver Community Center, Moore Avenue Church of Christ and Wiggins Community Center

- For Ward 4 —Anniston Country Club and Hodges Community Center.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Voter registration for the runoff already is closed, Henderson said.

The board will begin entering voter registrations for the upcoming federal election in November on Oct. 10. The registration deadline that election is Oct. 26, Henderson said.

Star Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @LCamper_Star
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