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The Millbrook Independent

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Garner makes Senate runoff, missing ballots in Titus found and counted
Written by News Desk   
Friday, 13 June 2014 16:46

06-12electioncmttee

(L-R) Brian Justiss, Circuit Clerk, John Enslen, Probate Judge, and Bill Franklin, Sheriff of Elmore County count the ballots from the Titus precinct. Justiss, Enslen and Franklin constitute Elmore County's election committee.

Photo: Brian Hodge


By This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it - News Editor

During the GOP primary on Tuesday, June 3 in Elmore County a mistake at the polling place in Titus led to a wild goose chase for 56 wayward ballots and an inconvenience for some voters. The ballots were recovered and hand counted but the count did avert runoff between Clyde Chambliss and Harris Garner in the Senate District 30 race. A runoff between Garner and Chambliss will be held on July 15, 2014.

"All elections in all Alabama counties have mistakes in them. There has not been a perfect election, and there will not be one. People carry out elections and people make mistakes. Most election mistakes are covered up by lopsided victories. Only very close elections can create the perfect storm," said Probate Judge John Enslen when he explained the situation Thursday morning.

Enslen explained that a data entry mistake at the Elmore County Board of Registrars led to an incorrect ballot at the precinct in Titus. The correct ballot style, designated R-3, was replaced by the incorrect ballot style R-2. The result was early voters in the Titus precinct received a ballot that lacked the Senate District 30 race, which only appeared on the R-3 ballot. Enslen said an astute voter noticed the mistake and advised him. Enslen took extra R-3 ballots from the Walsboro precinct and carried them to Titus, but by that time 26 voters had already cast ballots. Enslen and other probate office employees attempted to contact as many of the voters as possible to get them to come back and cast a ballot, which would be hand counted, for the Senate race.

A software fix was required before the machine in Titus could take the R-3 ballot. Enslen said around mid-afternoon the appropriate machine and ballot combination arrived and the election proceeded, as it originally should have, until the polls closed. Voters who returned to vote, as well as those who voted before the software fix was completed were given the R-2 ballot for the voting machine and a separate R-3 ballot with instructions only to vote in the Senate District 30 race.

06-12electionlawyers

(L-R) Harris Garner (seated at far left) with his attorney Winston Edwards, Al Agricola (attorney for Clyde Chambliss), and Clyde Chambliss watch the handcounting of the ballots.

Photo: Brian Hodge

Election officials segregated these ballots to be counted later by hand. A total of 56 such R-3 ballots, with votes only for Senate District 30 were set aside for hand counting. However those ballots were not counted on election night because they were briefly believed to have been lost, though it turns out they were locked in a vault the entire time. Poll workers placed the ballots into the same box Enslen brought from Walsboro to Titus. Since this box was labeled as a Walsboro box, it was placed with the other Walsboro boxes Enslen said. It was only when they noticed a box marked 'Walsboro' with the names of poll workers from Titus on the security tape, that election officials realized the mistake.

When the ballots were counted Clyde Chambliss, the frontrunner in vote totals, picked up an additional 18 votes. Harris Garner, the candidate with second highest number of votes, picked up an additional 34 votes. Candidates Suzelle Josey and Bill Harris picked two votes each.

Runoff election

It appears as if a runoff election for Senate District 30 will be necessary. In addition to the Senate District 30 election a proposed constitutional amendment which applies statewide will also be on the ballot. The amendment language will read: Proposing an amendment to Amendment 388 to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 93.06 of the official recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, relating specifically to the assessments authorized for cotton producers to support a program for the promotion of the production, distribution, improvement, marketing, use, and sale of cotton; to delete the requirement that assessments on cotton producers would be subject to refund. (Proposed by Act 2014-188)

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Last Updated on Friday, 13 June 2014 16:51
 
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